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How to identify and cope with stress in farmers

How to identify and cope with stress in farmers

Tips from Alberta Health Services

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

With uncertainties such as weather patterns, commodity prices and machinery breakdowns, agriculture can be a stressful career choice.

As a result, farm families should be aware of individual changes that could signal a feeling of stress.

“You can notice changes in a person’s mood when they become more irritable, more anxious or withdrawn,” Dr. Nick Mitchell, medical director for addiction and mental health with Alberta Health Services, told Alberta Agriculture’s Call of the Land yesterday.

“Sometimes people notice they have more difficulty concentrating, sleeping or eating.”

Stress is a normal part of life but when it impacts someone’s ability to do his/her job or maintain relationships, it can be worth seeking help, Dr. Mitchell said.

Stress is usually more serious when people feel things are out of their control, Dr. Mitchell said.

And if a farmer is feeling stressed, there can be a number of ways to try coping with those feelings.

“Oftentimes it’s helpful to engage with people you trust,” Dr. Mitchell said, adding other coping techniques include physical exercise, keeping regular sleep patterns, listening to music and reaching out to your church community.

Anyone seeking mental health advice can call Health Link at 1-877-303-2642.

Ag community recognizes mental health issues

The issue of mental health has been a trending topic among the agricultural community.

Less than a month ago, Kim Keller, a producer from Gronlid, Sask., received a message that someone within the province’s agricultural community had taken their own life.

She posted a tweet on June 28, sparking conversations and prompting Premier Brad Wall to suggest Keller contact the provincial Ministry of Agriculture.

And in 2016, data from a University of Guelph study suggested 45 per cent of the more than 1,000 farmer respondents felt high stress.

Another 35 per cent had depression.