After plenty of reflection and discussion, we felt it was time we did our part in stopping a stigma that we consider important in our lives – that stigma being mental health and particularly mental health in the agricultural industry.
When you think of a farmer, rancher or cowboy what comes to mind first? Strong, stoic, abundant perseverance and dedication to their land and animals comes to my mind. Not often do words like troubled, confused, or vulnerable come to mind when I consider these men and women in an industry that I call my own.
Large part of this lack of vulnerability has steamed from years – decades and centuries to be quite frank – of being told to “buck up and wipe the dirt from your wounds”. Phrases like that don’t particularly entice someone to open up about feeling stressed, depressed or anxious.
The conflicting messages of needing to be tough, when in fact you’re feeling in need of support, only encourages the stigma around mental health. People don’t feel that they can open up to their family or friends the same way they can about other topics that need support, just as much as mental health does.
But in order to remove this stigma, we need to start communicating how we feel and how we want to feel. By reaching out to someone – be it a friend, family member or health care professional – and expressing that you’re feeling stressed because wheat prices are at an all time low and you have no clue how to pay your bills, or that your favourite cow has just broken her hip and you know she needs to be euthanized, is the first step in gaining that needed support. From there, discussions on how you can manage those feelings and proactively express them, begin the healing process.
Mental health deserves and requires healing time, just the same as a broken bone or nasty flu. It’s not something you just “suck up” and never feel the effects of. As we often see, ignoring how we feel doesn’t allow the person suffering to begin the healing process.
In an attempt to help those in the agricultural industry who suffer from mental health begin to heal, Louise and I have put together this vlog to help open up conversation.
We ask our viewers to reach out and get talking as well, and not just on #BellLetsTalk day.
Stats & Extra Info:
- National Farmers Union Mental Health Links - http://www.nfu.ca/about/farm-emergency-resources-and-support
- Saskatchewan Farm Stress Line - 1-800-667-4442
- Manitoba Farm, Rural Support & Northern Support Services Line - 1-866-367-3276
- HealthLink BC (general mental health line – 310MentalHealth)– 310-6789
- Alberta Mental Health Hotline - 1-877-303-2642 (24/7)
- Survey of Canadian Farmers - University of Guelph - as mentioned by Kim Keller
-45% reported high stress
-58% reported anxiety
-35% reported depression
-40% of farmers said they would not seek help because of the stigma associated with mental health
- Western Producer – An isolating illness: talking about mental health - https://www.producer.com/2017/08/an-isolating-illness-talking-about-mental-health/
- Western Producer – Public criticism affects farmers’ mental health - https://www.producer.com/2016/10/public-criticism-affects-farmers-mental-health/
- Western Producer – Safety measures should include mental health - https://www.producer.com/2017/10/safety-measures-should-include-mental-health/
- Western Producer – Farmers suffering mental health issues fail to seek help - https://www.producer.com/2016/07/farmers-suffering-mental-health-issues-fail-to-seek-help/
- Western Producer – Suffering in silence - https://www.producer.com/2015/05/suffering-in-silence/
- Western Producer – If it seems dark, farmers need help to see light - https://www.producer.com/2017/11/if-it-seems-dark-farmers-need-help-to-see-light/
- Global News – FOCUS: How farmers sparked a conversation about mental health - https://globalnews.ca/news/3806218/focus-how-farmers-sparked-a-conversation-about-mental-health/