If you are in a crisis and need immediate support, contact Crisis Services Canada:
Agriculture, though a rewarding career, can be a line of work filled with distinct stressors. Farmers often battle unfavourable weather conditions, pests, irregular income, and the physical toll of labour-intensive work, all while dealing with the compounding effects of rural living and potential loneliness.
The farming lifestyle comes with its own set of unique mental health challenges that can be mentally taxing and physically demanding.
With the growing recognition and understanding of these challenges, steps are being taken to offer more resources to support farmers' mental health and provide coping mechanisms to manage their mental well-being.
Depression symptoms can manifest as a lack of motivation, persistent sadness, and weight changes. Meanwhile, anxiety might present through constant worrying and restlessness. A change in sleep patterns could also signal a mental health issue.
In this line of work, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s not unusual to miss the signs that something might need some care and attention. Fortunately, individuals can take proactive steps to manage their mental health; there are also many resources that help to screen for any pain points and provide support systems if issues develop.
Managing Mental Health: Proactive Measures
- Establish a routine: Adopt healthy habits like a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and staying hydrated. These things arm your body and your mind against some of the daily stresses in day-to-day life. Start small!
- Connect with others: Being in agriculture can often be isolating, but seeking support from friends, family, or colleagues can help manage feelings of anxiety or depression. Communication provides an emotional outlet and reduces feelings of isolation.
- Take care of physical health: Regular exercise produces endorphins ― natural mood boosters that can help manage stress and maintain mental well-being.
- Practise mindful techniques: Techniques like meditation, yoga, or focused breathing can help manage stress levels. Try taking a few minutes in the morning or the evening to practise simple breathing techniques.
- Use apps to your advantage: Apps such as CALM, GAIA and Headspace can be a great way to decompress or destress. These apps are for guided meditation or troubleshooting issues.
- Plan to succeed: Planning ahead and creating stability can help to support your mental wellbeing. Check out our blog “Plan for a successful harvest season”.
- Seek professional help if necessary: Don't be afraid to reach out to mental health professionals if things get tough. Your mental health matters. It’sokay to not be okay. It isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are human.
Thankfully, the plight of mental health in agriculture has been recognized, and there are resources available to help in this challenging line of work.
- Use online screening tools to help guide you in locating the right resources.
- Identify mental health resources in your community including info sheets, events, tools and services.
- Arm yourself with added knowledge and information using free online courses on mental health and wellbeing. These can be great ways to help create healthy coping mechanisms.
- Take advantage of an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) if you have access to one.
- Find a therapist that can help with specific issues.
- Access crisis services when you need them. The Farm Stress Line (Saskatchewan based) is a non-profit, confidential service that helps you work towards a solution in a neutral and judgement-free environment.
- Find information and resources for substance use support.
The farming community experiences specific struggles that many can't comprehend. Yet, there’s a unity rooted in shared experiences. It takes a village, not just to raise a child, but also to cultivate resilience.