Kim Keller, a co-founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation moderated a Mental Health panel as part of the Foraging into the Future Conference.
Amanda Douglas a Registered Social Worker with the Farm Stress Line in Saskatchewan was part of the panel raising the Conversation about Mental Health in Agriculture.
She says opening up the discussion around mental health is making a difference for people.
“Absolutely, I think people sometimes have notions that they’re the only ones going through a certain issue, but the numbers don’t lie right. There are over 60% of producers experiencing diagnosable anxiety; so it’s certainly affecting over half of our population.”
Rancher Adrienne Ivey related some of her personal experiences with identifying signs of stress and how she copes with them.
Darren Howden with Farm Credit Canada was part of the panel on Mental Health and pointed out that livestock producers know the importance of low-stress handling with livestock, yet don’t recognize or focus on the importance of reducing stress in their own lives.
Farm Credit Canada released a mental health document called “Rooted in Strength” that was recently mailed out to producers and is also available on their website.
Douglas talked to the group about the overall importance of self-care, recognizing signs and symptoms of stress, and the fact that it’s important to reach out for help and talk about what’s going on.
“The farming issues that we most often see are around succession planning because there’s an inherent conflict sometimes to succession planning. So, lots of issues around communication with family members about different value systems or different visions for what the farm is going to look like, that kind of thing. Another one is debt and planning around debt, so we have some resources that we can point people towards for that.”
Douglas encourages people who are struggling with or are concerned about their mental health to visit their family doctor to rule out any medical cause. She notes family doctors will also know what mental health resources are available in your area.
You can also call the Farm Stress Line it’s free, totally anonymous and available 24/7. The number for the Farm Stress Line is 1-800-667-4442.