A new resource has been created to help encourage, empower and support farmers from coast to coast with their mental well-being.
The Do More Agriculture Foundation has officially launched with the aim of changing the culture in agriculture to ensure farmers can access the help they need if they are struggling.
Co-founder and farmer Kim Keller says the industry needs the change.
“I think in agriculture we built this culture where we are tough, and we’re gruff and we don’t need help and we certainly don’t necessarily show our emotions and this seems to be more typically true for the men in our industry and that’s what we are trying to change.”
The website DoMore.ag aims to build a community where farmers, both men and women, can feel that they can talk about what is going on and reach out for help if they need it.
“What we’re hoping to do is actually build a directory or a hub where people from no matter where they are can go on to our website and see what resources are available to them.”
Lesley Kelly lives and farms with her husband, Mathieu, in Saskatchewan, she is also a co-founder of the foundation.
The couple lives in Regina but farm a couple of hours north of there.
She found out the need for this initiative after her husband had to deal with anxiety and panic attacks in 2015.
“The isolation that he was experiencing being away from his family and coming into a new farm setting, learning, working with your in-laws, and we had gone through some hard times on the farm, one year was really great, the next year not-so-great, another year great and another year not-so-great, also we had our second boy,“ said Kelly. “So all the family pressures, the farm pressures, pressures outside of his control took a toll.”
She says the toll eventually got to him in the summer of 2015.
“He started to experience some anxiety and then that anxiety reached its peak and he started having panic attacks and he didn’t know what was going on and he didn’t know what to do so he ended up calling the distress line to help get him through that. They gave him some resources and tools to help cope and since then he’s been on a journey and I’ve been helping him through that. I also experienced some baby blues after our second child, so we really have been on a journey together.”
She says it can be hard for producers to access help when they live in a rural area.
“If you have livestock, you can’t just go into the city for the whole day to get treatment or counseling services and for my hubby, he was experiencing a lot of challenges and panic attacks during the busiest time and it was in the middle of the night and where do you go when that happens?”
Both Keller and Kelly hope this helps producers overcome that obstacle.
Keller is encouraging producers in need of help to reach out.
“If anyone out there needs to talk or needing anything or thinks they may need some help go and get it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and in this industry, you are not alone and you do have the entire industry with you and behind you.”
For more information on the foundation and resources click here.