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Mental health at harvest

Mental health at harvest

Simple pleasures can help when harvest isn’t going smoothly, one producer said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

If they haven’t already, farmers will soon be getting into their combines to harvest their 2019 grain crops.

Between unfavorable weather, fluctuating market prices and other uncontrollable obstacles, harvest can be a difficult time of year. reached out to members of the ag industry for tips on how to manage stress and mental health during the harvest season.

Having a good support group to open up to when feeling overwhelmed is important, said John McFadyen, executive director of Regina Mobile Crisis Services in Regina, Sask. The organization operates the province’s Farm Stress Line.

“The biggest tip is to talk about it and reach out to your support system, whoever that may be,” he told “We’ve been at events when one person shares their story and it suddenly becomes an avalanche of other people talking about similar issues. It certainly helps reduce that (misconception) about being weak for speaking out.”

For some producers, enjoying simple pleasures can help alleviate stress after a long day in the combine.

A home-cooked meal can do wonders, said Rauri Qually, a grain producer from Dacotah, Man.

“My mother, out of her own free will, cooks us a wonderful dinner every night,” he told “Usually we’re coming in so late at night that she’s already gone to bed, but the food is ready to go and it’s so comforting for us.”

Finding a hobby away from the farm can also serve as an escape from the harvest duties.

The hobby doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but having your brain think about something else for a little while is important, Qually said.

“I run a little electrical business on the side, so on those days where the weather doesn’t cooperate and we have to wait around, my dad and I redid an electrical trailer and had a good time with that,” he said. “It’s a nice distraction that you can put down and pickup anytime when you need to get away from the field.”

After harvest, producers may want to make time for a getaway.

Like a hobby, the small vacation doesn’t need to be very expensive or extravagant, but it allows for a chance to recharge.

“My wife and I booked a hotel room in Minot, N.D.,” he said. “It’s a cheap holiday for the weekend. I know there’s still work to do on the farm, but this way you can take a few days, sleep in, recharge your batteries and then get back to work.”

Join the discussion by sharing your stress relief tips for fellow producers.


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