Ag industry members have difficulties finding mental health services
Farmers face challenges accessing mental health resources due to limited internet access, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food heard
But solutions to poor internet access in rural regions exist, Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, explained to the committee. Farmers need not “suffer and die unnecessarily” because they have difficulties accessing mental health resources, she said in the meeting.
“We need to step up to the plate collectively and take a look at what’s happening across our farming communities,” Bradley said. “We need to give some serious thought to how we are supporting their mental health.”
Developing solutions to rural internet access may seem like a large problem but it’s doable, she explained.
“Let’s remember that access to services are scant and often unavailable in most (rural) communities across this country,” said Bradley. “We have to build a practical framework to address the mental health of farmers, and we need to build better broadband infrastructure.”
Until reliable internet connections are established in rural areas across the country, other options are available for those struggling.
“Growing an (online) support network has really helped my husband and me,” Lesley Kelly, Saskatchewan farmer and co-founder of the Do More Agriculture foundation, told Farms.com today. However, “if you’re in a spot “where there isn’t awesome internet (access), mental health support can go in different ways. It can be visually, via telephone, or face-to-face, one-on-one.”
The government must recognize the barriers that prevent industry members from accessing necessary mental health resources, Keith Currie, president of the OFA, said in the meeting.
“The perception remains that mental health challenges are ones … not to be discussed openly,” he said. “We hear from our members and from current research that farmers need and appreciate resources that are tailored to the realities of farming.”
The Tuesday meeting was part of a series on mental health challenges that Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers face. Previous Farms.com coverage can be accessed here