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Support yourself, support each other – for a lifetime

3 min read

Many of us, especially those in the agricultural community, are aware that our mental health needs to be taken care of. Most have experienced mental health challenges or know someone who has. 

Knowing where to turn or what to do when you or someone in your circle needs support can make all the difference in a person’s quality of life. But knowing what to do, who to reach out to or even how to start such important conversations isn’t always obvious. 

This is why Do More Ag has partnered with FCC to create The Community Fund for Mental Health. The Fund was created to provide agriculture communities across Canada with access to mental health education at no cost – so that you'll be better prepared in times of concern or crisis.  

A growing need

In the past year, we’ve seen an 80 per cent increase in asks for the program.

The fund has become a sought-after resource across the country. “In the past year, we’ve seen an 80 per cent increase in asks for the program,” says Megz Reynolds, executive director of Do More Ag. “Last year was really hard,” Reynolds says. “Some experienced avian influenza, drought or too much moisture. Atlantic Canada was hit by Fiona, B.C. had wildfires and devastating flooding, and P.E.I. had trade issues and had to put potatoes through snowblowers to destroy them. Challenges seem to be increasing, so the need for help is growing as well.” 

Reynolds says that it’s important to practice coping strategies during times of chronic stress, or while feeling overwhelmed or having feelings of anxiety. But she emphasizes that adding coping strategies when already overwhelmed can feel challenging. Reynolds suggests incorporating coping mechanisms into daily life so that they’re already part of your life when they’re most needed.   

Sign up or watch a video 

There are several options for learning coping mechanisms and mental health strategies – and some offerings require less time commitment than others. 

“We offer online virtual workshops and short informative videos for efficient learning,” Reynolds says. “Our Talk it Out video series offers different perspectives, such as a farmer with PTSD, a support person and an expert on the topic. And it’s all on YouTube!” she says.  

A longer option, In the Know, is a four-hour workshop that covers the topics of stress, anxiety, substance abuse and how to start a conversation around mental well-being. 

Talk, Ask, Listen is a virtual half-day, interactive workshop developed by farmers, for farmers. You’ll walk away with greater awareness and understanding of mental health, and you can access the training from the cab of your tractor or your office.  

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a two-day course developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Delivered by a certified instructor, the course will help you to better manage potential or developing mental health problems in yourself, a family member, a friend or a colleague. 

You’re not alone 

To hear what others are thinking and experiencing, you can join Do More Ag’s AgTalk platform. This members-only group is a place where farm operators can post their thoughts, questions, concerns and ideas anonymously, and join a conversation. “Ag Talk is available in English and French to anyone in ag over 16 years old. And you don’t have to post,” Reynolds says. “You can simply read about what others are struggling with and see that you’re not alone.” 

To explore what Do More Ag has to offer, visit domore.ag. For Quebec-based resources, visit Au Coeur des Familles Agricoles at acfareseaux.qc.ca

From an AgriSuccess article by Kim Sheppard.