The videos encourage farmers to practice self-care
By Diego Flammini
Ontario’s provincial government is publishing a series of videos to help farmers with their mental health.
OMAFRA’s videos will feature information and advice from farmers and leaders in the ag sector. The videos will be posted on OMAFRA’s Twitter account and website throughout the planting season.
The videos originated from conversations with Ontario producers, said Ernie Hardeman, the province’s agriculture minister.
“When we reached out to farmers and agriculture leaders to get involved in our spring planting mental health campaign, they stepped up to the plate, providing advice on reducing stress, resources available to support farmers, and addressing mental health challenges," he said in a statement. "They know first-hand what it's like to be overwhelmed by long work days and stress when there is so much at stake, but with no control over factors like the weather."
Farmers appreciate the government’s commitment to mental health awareness.
The video messages are a good start, but more needs to be done to ensure farmers have access to publicly funded resources, said Sandra Vos, a beef producer from Brant County.
“The availability of the messages is a good thing to encourage people to think about themselves or others who may need help, but it’s the follow-up I’m concerned about,” she told Farms.com. “Are there services available to act on that first courageous step of realizing help is needed?
“There’s always the private sector which is great, but I think there needs to be more emphasis on public mental health supports for people who need them.”
The landscape surrounding mental health in the ag industry has changed.
Several meetings and conferences have a mental health component, Vos said.
“The last few OFA meetings have talked about mental health and (Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton’s) study out of the University of Guelph has been mentioned many times and other meetings are discussing the issue,” she said. “That wouldn’t have been on the radar three or four years ago.”
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