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Mental Health and Resiliency in the Agriculture Industry

By Jacqueline Johnson, AAg, Agriculture Programs Specialist, Prince Albert

March 2021

Farm couple standing in a field
A farm couple stands in a field
watching a grey sky.

When we hear about resiliency in agriculture, the discussion often revolves around systems, such as cropping systems, supply chains, food processing and their ability to recover after a setback. However, resiliency is not only a measure of how adept our agricultural systems are in dealing with hardships, it is a measure of health for the backbone of our industry; our primary producers. 

Resiliency is defined as one’s ability to recover quickly from difficulties. It is also defined as being able to advance despite adversity.

"Resiliency is the end competency that is built after improving mental health literacy, support skills, boundaries and self-care,” said Adelle Stewart, Executive Director of Do More Ag. “It is a buildable skill that is achieved over time based on bite-size pieces of education that amalgamated creates increased abilities to better withstand pressure through the use of healthy coping strategies."

With funding from the Farm Safety Program, the Agricultural Health and Safety Network teamed up with Bridges Health and Do More Ag to deliver four webinars this spring to address mental health and resiliency for producers across the province. The ‘Mental Health and Resiliency in the Agriculture Industry’ webinar aims to provide producers with a brief overview of mental health, techniques to identify warning signs around mental health, and strategies on how to make positive changes for themselves and others.

“Fostering mental health resiliency in agriculture is crucial, and we hope that this event will help farmers cultivate their resiliency by providing information and tools for their own mental health support and well-being” says Kendra Ulmer, with the Agricultural Health and Safety Network. “This presentation is geared towards the agricultural community with relevant examples and conversations.”

“We recognize the unique stressors that impact Saskatchewan producers,” says Kyle Anderson, Sr. Business Development Consultant at Bridges Health. “By improving the skill of resilience, individuals can cope with challenges they face.”

The Agricultural Health and Safety Network understands that farmers are facing tremendous pressures in 2021 and it is essential to deliver continued services and resources, especially around mental health awareness and support.

“The agricultural industry is a backbone of the Saskatchewan economy, with a foundation rooted in community and resilience,” said Kendra Ulmer. “Producers face many unique challenges and stressors, which can lead to mental health issues. Rates of stress, anxiety, depression and burnout are high within the agriculture community. It is more important than ever to have appropriate tools and supports available to producers as we continue to increase knowledge and awareness about mental health.”

The webinars will be facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and will be offered on four different dates and times. 

For more information about this webinar, please contact your local agriculture programs specialist or contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

The Farm Stress Line is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to provide confidential counselling, support, information and referrals to respond to the needs of individuals living on the farm or in a rural community. Contact them toll-free at 1-800-667-4442.

The Farm Safety Program is part of the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership suite of programs in Saskatchewan. It provides funding for organizations to promote awareness of farm safety issues and encourage the adoption of safe farm practices in Saskatchewan.

The Avail app provides a library of resources to assist Saskatchewan producers in actively monitoring their mental health. The app allows user to gain important insights into their mental wellbeing through self-assessments and tracking. The app also connects users with care professionals in their area, and links them to the virtual supports available. When signing up for an account, be sure to select the "Agriculture Saskatchewan" option from the organization name drop-down menu to access your free account.

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