Governments Funding Farmer Mental Health




The federal and Ontario governments are investing in farmer mental health.


Ottawa and Queen’s Park on Monday announced $7 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to launch two, new multi-year mental health initiatives that are specialized to support those in the agriculture sector.


The Guardians Network and a new program modelled after the Farmer Wellness Program pioneered by mental health specialist Deborah Vanberkel, will provide farm families across the province with free counselling services as well as help connect at-risk farmers with tailored support and resources. The initiatives are expected to launch early next year and will be developed in consultation with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and other mental health sector experts.


The programs are the direct result of numerous roundtable discussions, and other engagements with farmers about their mental health concerns.


“I very much understand and appreciate how stressful running a farm can be, working 365 days a year and dealing with unpredictable weather, commodity prices and increasing costs of production,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Add in the pandemic, and these pressures are having a real effect on the mental health of farmers and their families.


According to research from the University of Guelph, farmers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to mental health, with stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and burnout all higher than among other groups. The research found that 45% of farmer respondents had high stress. Another 58% were classified with varying levels of anxiety, and 35% with depression.


Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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