Supporting Farmers' Mental Health

Published on April 22, 2019

Supporting Farmers' Mental Health

Encouraging Farmers to Practice Self-Care

This spring, planting season is a time of new beginnings, but it can also be a stressful period for farmers and their families. Ontario's Government wants to raise awareness, to help keep mental health and self-care top of mind in the farming community.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman is launching a new video series to raise awareness among farmers, their families and communities about how the unique challenges they face during planting season can impact mental health. The videos, featuring information and advice from farmers and leaders in the agriculture sector, will be posted on @OMAFRA and the ministry's website throughout the season.

"When we reached out to farmers and agriculture leaders to get involved in our spring planting mental health campaign, they stepped up to the plate, providing advice on reducing stress, resources available to support farmers, and addressing mental health challenges," said Hardeman. "They know first-hand what it's like to be overwhelmed by long work days and stress when there is so much at stake, but with no control over factors like the weather."

This video series is part of a broader, agriculture-focused mental health awareness effort underway since January, which includes a social media campaign and roundtable discussions with Minister Hardeman.

"When stress builds up to the point where it feels overwhelming, it can really take a toll on mental wellbeing," said Hardeman. "That's why it's so important for family, friends and neighbours to keep looking out for one another - not only during planting season, but every season."

Just talking with a friend or family member can make a world of difference. Farmers can also reach out for mental health support in their communities.

"Farmers should not have to be in crisis before they seek help," said Hardeman.

This initiative is part of the government's commitment to invest $1.9 billion over the next 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy. This is the biggest commitment to mental health in provincial history.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs supports a number of programs to help farmers, including research to evaluate mental health needs for farmers and farm business risk management programs to cover loss and damage.