Mental Health for Farmers – First Aid Kit

Owning a farm business can be very stressful. If you are struggling with the impact of these stresses, you are not alone.

The government of Ontario cares about the well-being of farmers and farm families and recognizes they face unique challenges that can lead to mental health issues.

There is help out there if you're struggling. Reach out to a friend or other emotional support. Together we can end the stigma that surrounds mental health. You matter, and you're important. We're all in this together.

Public Service Announcement Video: Encouraging farmers to help address the stigma that still surrounds mental health and to use available resources.

Consider the following options:

If you need immediate help:

Mental Health Helpline

The Ontario 211 (Province-wide Crisis Line) will connect callers to mental health supports in their communities

Distress Centres in Ontario

Centres are available to offer confidential, private support for anyone who is feeling emotionally impacted, or in distress or crisis due to the challenges in the agricultural industry.

Whether you are directly impacted, or someone you care about - family, friends or work-associates - you can connect with Distress Centres 24/7 every day of the year.

  • Cambridge: 519-658-5455
  • Durham Region: 1-800-452-0688 or 905-430-2522
  • Kingston: 613-544-1771
  • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties: 800-465-4442
  • Niagara Falls, St. Catharines: 905-688-3711
  • North Halton: 905-877-1211
  • Northern Ontario: 1-855-554-4325
  • Oakville: 905-849-4541
  • Ottawa and Region: 613-238-3311
  • Peel Region: 905-459-7777
  • Ontario (French Speaking): 1-800-567-9699
  • Toronto: 416-408-4357
  • Wellington and Dufferin Counties: 1-888-821-3760
  • Windsor and Essex Counties: 519-256-5000

For more information about the resources available please go to: Distress and Crisis Ontario

If you prefer to have an email conversation contact: info@dcontario.org

Stress Mitigation Resources for Farmers

Resources available to farmers and their families to help reduce stress and improve their well-being

Table of Contents

Stress

Stress is the body's response to a real or perceived threat. That response is meant to get people ready for some kind of action or get them out of danger.

Some stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us to focus on a task or take action and solve a problem. In this situation, stress is manageable and even helpful.

When stress is unhelpful, people may feel overwhelmed or feel like they can't possibly fix the problem. It can be very hard to concentrate, make decisions, and feel confident when a person experiences a lot of stress.

Working in the agricultural industry can be both rewarding and stressful for farmers. Farmers have a unique bond to their work which can make it difficult to identify and manage stress and accommodate the necessary self-care for managing stress.

This infosheet outlines resources that are available to farmers that may help them manage stress. If you would like more information on the signs of stress and strategies to deal with stress please visit:

Financial Stress

Financial stress can affect any business in any sector.

The agriculture sector is unique in that there are many factors outside the farmer's control such as crop losses, animal disease, or declining market prices. Despite best efforts to mitigate these risks, they can cause significant financial stress for farmers and their families.

Farm Business Advisors

Having a trusted farm business advisor/consultant is a useful resource for any farmer. A farm business advisor/consultant can provide factual results about the financial health of your farm and provide suggestions on how you can improve your financial situation or what options are available to you.

OMAFRA has created a factsheet called "Choosing a Business Consultant" which outlines what questions you should ask any potential consultants as well as any agreements that should be signed.

Special Provision - Financial Difficulties

Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, Ontario producers who are experiencing financial difficulty may qualify to access advisory services to complete a Farm Financial Assessment at no cost.

The Farm Financial Assessment provides a review of the farm business' past financial performance, provides an analysis of the current business climate, develops objectives and identifies options to meet profitability and sustainability goals.

For more information, contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

Farm Debt Mediation

The Farm Debt Mediation Service offers financial counselling and mediation services to farmers who are having difficulties meeting their financial obligations. It is a free and voluntary service for both producers and for creditor(s).

The service helps bring producers and their creditor(s) together with a mediator in a neutral forum to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

For more information about the program please call 1-866-452-5556 or visit Farm Debt Mediation Service.

Animal Welfare

Caring for animals is a 24/7 job. When you are under stress, sometimes it can be difficult to manage all of the day-to-day farm activities, including providing adequate care for your livestock.

Farm and Food Care Ontario

The Helpline is a confidential "farmer helping farmer" approach of advice and referral on animal care.

The Helpline service is provided by Farm and Food Care Ontario to assist people in providing good care for their farm animals. Calls received by the service are given to the appropriate commodity group(s) for follow-up.

Mental Health

Mental health is more than the absence of a mental health condition or illness: it is a positive sense of well-being, or the capacity to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.

Over the course of any person's life it is highly likely that they will develop a mental health issue themselves or have close contact with someone who does. In Canada, one person in five will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.

A mental health disorder causes major changes in a person's thinking, emotional state and behaviour, and disrupts the person's ability to work and carry out their usual personal relationships. A mental health issue is a broader term that includes both mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders which may not be severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of a mental disorder.

Life events, losses and stressors (negative or positive), such as job loss, death of a loved one, loss of health, divorce or a new relationship, may cause distress for a person. A person will often have reactions that are considered normal or realistic for the situation.

These can become a disorder when the length, intensity or effect they have on the person's life are considerable and prolonged. The two most common mental health problems are depression and anxiety.

Do More Ag

Do More Ag is a not-for-profit organization focusing on mental health in agriculture across Canada.

By championing the mental wellbeing of all Canadian producers, Do More Ag is changing the culture of agriculture to one where all producers are encouraged, supported and empowered to take care of their mental wellbeing.

For more information about Do More Ag, and the resources they have on mental health, please visit: Resources - The Do More Agriculture Foundation.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Association

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) is working towards making agriculture a safe and healthy environment to work and live in by helping producers and community partners to see and manage risk. The specific stress related resources that CASA has created include:

Canadian Mental Health Association

The vision of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is to make mental health possible for all.

Visit CMHA Ontario's website for information and resources about mental health and addictions

eMentalHealth.ca

eMentalHealth.ca is a website dedicated to improving mental health in youth and families.

Through this online portal, you can find mental health help in your area and access infosheets on a wide range of topics including stress, understanding mental health disorders, and strategies for caregivers.

Mental Health Helpline

The Mental Health Helpline provides information about mental health services in Ontario. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it is free and confidential.

The Mental Health Helpline can:

  • provide information about counselling services and supports in your community
  • listen, offer support and provide strategies to help you meet your goals
  • provide basic education about mental health problems

To access the Mental Health Helpline you can:

Conclusion

Stress is inevitable, especially if you work in an often volatile and unpredictable industry, such as agriculture. Effective management of stress and mental health are important considerations for farm families as they can negatively impact individuals, families, businesses and communities.

The resources outlined in this infosheet are provided as information to help farmers and their families better understand what resources are available to help reduce stress and improve their well-being.

Bibliography

  • Canadian Mental Health Association. (2017). Stress. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2017). Mental Health First Aid. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from Mental Health Commission of Canada

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Erich Weber, CPA - Business Finance Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 07 January 2019
Last Reviewed: 07 January 2019