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'They need us right now': New mental-health foundation aims to help struggling farmers
 
Megz Reynolds points to golden fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.
 
Five years ago, she traded her busy career in Vancouver's film industry to grow grains with her husband on his family's century-old farm in central Saskatchewan near White Bear, about an hour northwest of Swift Current.
 
They were doing well until a hailstorm two years ago during harvest season.
 
"It looked like a monsoon pretty much had just hit us," said Reynolds, who also has two small children. "We had standing water in some of our fields that was well over my cowboy boots."
 
In 10 minutes, all of the family's crops were destroyed. Reynolds said she knew about the risks of unpredictable weather and fickle commodity prices before entering the industry, but that hasn't made the situation easier.
 
Gronlid, Sask., farmer Kim Keller, who has been in the business for seven years, is well aware of the tribulations of the agriculture business, but also knows the stigma. 
 
"We have this image that we're tough and rough and we don't need help," she said. "Or that if you do need help, that you're weak."
 
In an effort to address this problem, Keller is launching a new national foundation on Jan. 30 called Do More Ag, which aims to connect farmers with mental health resources through a directory and awareness campaigns.
 
'They need us right now'
A 2016 survey from the University of Guelph suggests many agricultural producers across the country are worried.
 
Forty-five per cent of farmers surveyed said they had high stress and 35 per cent said they had depression — which is two to four times higher than farmers studied in the United Kingdom and Norway.
 
Forty per cent of respondents, however, told researchers they wouldn't seek counselling due to the stigma associated with mental health and illness.
 
Keller said she began trying to change the culture of agriculture last summer after receiving a text message from someone in the industry who was looking for assistance after a fellow farmer committed suicide.
 
"Without our producers doing what they're doing, we wouldn't have this amazing industry that we have today," Keller said. "I think it's time that we actually focus on the people behind the production, because they need us right now."
 

 

Source : CBC