This week the Ag Women's Network is focusing on mental health. There has been lots of discussion on social media and in the media about ending the stigma attached to mental health, so people can find the courage to get the help they need. Canadians set a new record, with over 125 million texts, tweets and shares, raising over $6.2 million for mental health on Bell's Let's Talk Day on Wednesday.
Farmers and members of the agriculture industry were actively a part of this as mental illness doesn't discriminate on gender and rural men are particularly susceptible.
It is only logical then we focus today's post on the resources available to help.
After hearing her incredible story, Clara Hughes encouraged us to offer to listen more.
In the simplest of cases, taking action to reduce stress and talking to a close friend or family member can help to minimize anxiety. For me, when I realized I was struggling I turned to friends who encouraged me to consult the resources offered by my employer. Here I found some good information on mental illness, as well as access to a counselor through an online chat and the phone.
Often these services are available not just for employees but also their families, so check with your HR department to learn what assistance your company offers.
Mental Health Services & Counselling for Farmers
Unfortunately, professional help isn't so easy to find when you're self-employed, like a farmer, or in a rural area. It's been mentioned in a couple articles we shared this week (here and here) and echoed by members.
"Accessing help wasn't easy. I had a choice of driving an hour or go on a year wait list." Tweeted Sarah Jackson about her struggle. Other members echoed this challenge of finding a public health therapist they liked and didn't have to wait to talk too.
With the adoption of the Internet, you'd think we'd be further along than we are in offering online support services. A CTV News story about e-health opportunities only speaks to the potential and doesn't provide any solutions.
As a result, some provincial governments and non-profits have set up hot lines to serve farmers and rural citizens. A counselor at the Manitoba Farm Rural & Northern Support Services still feels they're rare though and admits they get calls from out of province. You can see from the list below, there is a lot of opportunity to improve services offered to farmers and rural Canadians. In the case where you suspect a life is in danger, you should always call 911 or go to your local hospital first.
If you know of or recommend other services, please leave them in the comments below for our readers.
Farmer Support and Mental Health Resources in Canada
Resources (rather than just links, we've included phone numbers so you can print & share it with someone who may need it). All phone support services listed below are available 24/7 unless otherwise noted and confidential.
Alberta Government Confidential Help Line
More information: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/faq8848?opendocument
Manitoba Farm Rural & Norther Support Services / Manitoba Suicide Line
Offers 3 ways to get support:
Online chat: http://www.ruralsupport.ca/
Ontario The Farm Line - unconfirmed if still operational
Call: 1-888-451-2903 (Mon to Fri – 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
You can also search "rural Ontario counselling" and a number of local programs are available, like the Guelph-Wellington Rural Women's Support Program.
ConnexOntario - Ontario Ministry of Health Mental Health Helpline
More information: http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/
Prince Edward Island Farmer Assistance ProgramCall: (902) 894-8006
More information: http://peifa.ca/farmer-assistance-program-2/
Saskatchewan Mobile Crisis Farm Stress Line
More information: http://www.mobilecrisis.ca/farm-stress-line-rural-sask
e-Mental Health Rural and Remote Counselling Services Directory
Farm Support Organizations Outside Canada
The Farming Community Network (UK)
The Upper Teesdale Ag Support Services (UK)
Farm Rescue (North Dakota)
National Center for Farmer Health (Australia)