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First annual National Symposium on Agricultural Mental Health

First annual National Symposium on Agricultural Mental Health

Free, virtual symposium to take place on March 8, 2023.

By Andrew Joseph,; Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

This March 8, 2023, leaders in the agricultural sector from across Canada will gather for the country’s first National Symposium on Agricultural Mental Health.

This free, virtual symposium is hosted by the Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing and The Guardian Network, an Agriculture Wellness Ontario program run by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, and funded by the governments of Canada and Ontario through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Everyone feels stress before and after a “crisis”—be it having to study for a test, or wondering what to do because of a drought.

However, while some people find the stress alleviated after the crisis, others do not. It can come in the form of fear, anxiety, or sadness.

However, not everyone overtly shows it emotionally.

Other signs of a mental health crisis may include:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little;
  • Pulling away from people and things;
  • Having low or no energy—the dreaded not wanting to leave the bed episode;
  • Unexplained aches and pains, such as constant stomach aches or headaches;
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless;
  • Excessive smoking, drinking, or using drugs, including prescription medications;
  • Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why;
  • Thinking of hurting or killing yourself or someone else;
  • Having difficulty readjusting to home or work life.

Registration opens January 26, 2023, at

About the Symposium
The National Symposium on Agricultural Mental Health has been established to connect mental health groups, researchers, government officials and policy makers, members of Canada’s agricultural community including agricultural associations and producer groups, individual advocates, and most importantly farmers to address the challenges and opportunities of the farmer mental health movement across the country.

The Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing (CCAW) is a national, not-for-profit organization for research, program development, policy, extension and engagement around mental health in Canadian farming. The CCAW works with established and developing grassroots, community-based organizations across the country, to provide critical, evidenced-based programming, to the agricultural community.

The Guardian Network is a volunteer suicide prevention program that supports Ontario’s farming community and is a social enterprise of CMHA Ontario. As part of the Agriculture Wellness Ontario suite of programs, it aims to bring mental health education, counselling services, and enhanced community support to rural and agricultural communities across the province.

National Symposium on Agricultural Mental Health
Date: March 8, 2023
Time: 8:45 a.m. EST
Location: Virtual
Participation details:

Keynote Speaker
Keynote: Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, DVM, PhD
Dr. Jones-Bitton is a veterinarian, epidemiologist, and Associate Professor in the
Department of Population Medicine, and Director of Well-Being Programming for the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

Concurrent session presentations and panelists include:

  • Dr. Briana Hagen, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Lead Scientist, Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing;
  • Dr. Rebecca Purc-Stephenson, PhD, University of Alberta and Lead Researcher of AgKnow, the Alberta Farm Mental Health Network;
  • Deborah Vanberkel, RP, Chief Programming Officer CCAW, and Founder of The Farmer Wellness Program;
  • Megz Reynolds, Executive Director, The Do More Agriculture Foundation Association Québécoise de prévention du suicide;
  • Agriculture Wellness Ontario;
  • Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program;
  • New Brunswick Farmer Wellness.

More will be announced in the coming month.

Register today to receive updates at

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