Quite often mental health issues are brushed aside as weakness or something to "just get over, already!" We see it in the ag industry quite often, with quotes such as "act cowgirl/cowboy tough", "just dust off the dirt and get moving", "those scars make you tough", and my favourite - "stop acting like a girl, man up!" All of these sayings only continue to oppress a group of individuals who are truly suffering, and deserve the respect and support to heal.
People, especially those in the agricultural industry, are amazing at supporting others in times of need. Be it a financial strain on a new family, a young child in need of a new organ, or an entrepreneur starting their own business, the agricultural industry always seems to have each others back. But somehow we over look other struggles because they don't fit social norms.
Just like many invisible illnesses, mental health aliments often go without notice in large part due to our social environment. Society has created a stigma attached to mental health issues and without dialogue and communication these stigmas will stay around for many more years.
Today, I ask everyone to take the time to reach out, connect and communicate with people you love and care about. Heck, even connect and reach out to that crabby neighbour, who always lets their cows in your pasture! ;) Because they may be in need of some help too. More often than not mental health sufferers look just like these lovely ladies in the pictures for this post - young, healthy, connected with animals and nature - yet inside they're suffering and just don't know how to ask for help.
As a communication professional, I take communicating seriously. I strongly believe that if we do not increase our communication about mental health, across society but especially in agriculture, we will continue to lose some of the most amazing opportunities to grow. Growth comes in all forms, as we see when we seed our canola crop or pick genetics for our calving operation, but we often forget to take time to grow within our community. And today we can work to grow awareness, support, empathy and love for our fellow members of the ag-industry who struggle with mental health issues.
Today, Just.Ag Productions, or better yet, Bree Patterson, stands up for mental health. I'm making a promise, to all members of the Canadian agricultural industry, that I am here to listen. I am here to help you find the most proactive way to help you heal. I am here to support, without judgement, so that one day no one will have to feel ashamed to say, "I have a mental health issue and I need help."