The Champlain East regional branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) offers advice for residents of Eastern Ontario who either work in agriculture or know someone who does.
“When you think about the wide range of stressors that our farmers expericnce on a day-to-day basis, most of them are outside of their control,” stated Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, a professort at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. “That creates a senses of helplessness.”
The CMHA noted in an information brief that farmers often have to live far from more populated centres because their operations demand a large amount of space for crops to grow, pasturage for livestock, or room for large outbuildings to house animals and equipment. This can increase the amount of isolation and the risk of depression for people who work in agriculture during the dark months of winter.
The CMHA now offers programs to help farmers know more about mental health issues and how to deal with them. These programs include In The Know, a mental health literacy program. The CMHA also works with other non-profit agencies like Do More Ag, which focus on mental health needs for people involved in agriculture.
The increasing popularity of social media also helps individuals and families in the farming community stay more in touch with friends and relatives and also agencies that can help them. The CMHA noted that the value of social media in promoting good mental health emphasizes the importance of high-speed Internet access for rural areas.
More information on mental health services for people in the agricultural sector is available from CMHA at www.cmha-east.on.ca or by phone to 1-800-493-827