New resource gives Island farming community more mental health support
Prince Edward Island’s farmers and their families have a new resource to help them deal with the mental and emotional stress that can come with farming life.
The new website www.farmerstalk.ca encourages farmers, producers and family members to open up about the challenges they face, to support each other and to reach out for help with any mental health struggles they may be dealing with. The site reminds farmers that they are not alone and includes personal messages about mental health, links to support services and advice on how farmers can take care of their mental health before it becomes a crisis.
Hog producer Donald MacDonald saw how heavy the emotional burden of farming can be when a friend and colleague who had expressed concern about financial pressures went on to take his own life.
“This was a solid, hard working guy, who didn’t talk much about things that were bothering him,” MacDonald said. “I think sometimes people in this industry just feel that there isn’t a way to get out or to improve things. If people can talk about how they are doing and if we can listen to each other maybe that will help.”
Agriculture and Land Minister Bloyce Thompson launched the website today at the annual meeting of the PEI Federation of Agriculture.
"I can tell you from my experience and from the lives of those around me, farming can be a stressful way to make a living. Too many of our friends and colleagues wrestle alone with anxiety, depression and isolation. We want to open up conversations about mental health and farming. There are people who care and services available to help.” - Hon. Bloyce Thompson
Farmers and those that support them are encouraged to visit the FarmersTalk.Ca site, download the talk bubble to spark conversation and post social media messages of support using the hashtag #FarmersTalk.
“You can talk about your own experiences, you can offer encouragement – the important thing is that we let each other know that we are there for each other as farmers dealing with stress, depression or anxiety,” Thompson said. “I want my fellow farmers to understand that they are not in this struggle alone.”
FarmersTalk.Ca was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Land in cooperation with Island farm organizations, and provincial mental health services. The resource builds on support already being offered through the Farmer Assistance Program, which offers six free sessions to farmers, their families and their employees dealing with mental health issues.
“The Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture is proud of the fact we have been offering counseling services through the Farm Assistance Program since 2004” said president David Mol. “Mental health is an incredibly important issue in today’s farming environment and it is crucial that as an industry we stand beside each other and ensure people’s well being is taken care of. The Farmer Assistance Program is there for that reason and we look at Farmers Talk as one more way to shed light on this issue and how we are not alone.”
Department of Agriculture and Land