AgSafe and CMHA BC team up for mental health awareness for agriculture sector
December 16, 2021 – After recent floods on the heels of wildfires, a heat dome, and an ongoing pandemic, many in the agricultural community face a host of challenges—including taking care of their mental health, as they contemplate next steps. AgSafe and Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) have teamed up to raise awareness about services and resources available for those struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed.
“It’s been a difficult year for all of us, but for flood-impacted farmers, they’re facing a loss of homes, livelihoods, crops, and livestock,” says Jonny Morris, CEO, CMHA BC. “Natural disasters have an immense impact on emotional health, and for those who are affected, they may experience psychological distress, sometimes soon after, but sometimes longer after the event. No matter when you realize you need it, help is available.”
AgSafe also encourages farmers who are struggling with their mental well-being to reach out for help. “Our farming community is in a mental health crisis. The rate of mental illness exceeds those in other professions. Producers often feel the pressure to work hard, be strong and resilient, and not let it show or ask for help,” says Wendy Bennett, Executive Director, AgSafe. “It can be really isolating, and it’s so important that people know it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling, and it shows strength to reach out. When you talk to others, you’ll realize you’re not alone—we’re a community and we help each other-it’s okay not to be okay.”
Morris and Bennett say that producers may now feel a deep sense of loss and be overwhelmed by the magnitude of rebuilding. That’s why CMHA BC, AgSafe, and other industry organizations have staff and resources available to help. Here are five things you can do if you are feeling stressed or anxious:
- Know what resources are available:
- 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE for emergency
- 310-6789 (across BC, no area code)—local BC Crisis Line, available even if you just need information or to talk
- AgSafeBC.ca—mental wellness resources and B.C.-based contacts familiar with the agriculture industry
- BCDisasterstress.ca—tips and resources from CMHA BC
- Find your local CMHA branch
- Ask for help – Talking helps. Talk to someone you trust, whether it’s family, friends, a doctor or counsellor. Crisis lines are available to listen and help anytime—not just during a crisis. CMHA BC and AgSafe are working together to better meet the needs of B.C.’s agriculture community.
- Help others – Assisting others can help us regain a sense of purpose and community as we confront challenges together. There have been great examples of community coming together in the agriculture sector—that’s one of the real strengths of the sector.
- Take a break. Take breaks from social media and from thinking and talking about the events.
- Prepare – If you’re watching from afar and feeling stressed, channeling that into having a clear emergency plan and kit ready for your family, pets and livestock can ease your mind and allow you to focus on other needs.
About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
CMHA is Canada’s most established mental health charity and the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health. CMHA helps people access the resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. Each year in BC alone, CMHA serves more than 100,000 people all across the province. For mental health and addiction information and resources visit www.cmha.bc.ca or your local CMHA branch website.
AgSafe is the non-profit health and safety association for agricultural producers in British Columbia, providing site-specific consultation and on-site safety education, as well as online workplace safety resources and materials. For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture-related workplace health and safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca.
Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division
Senior Manager, Communications
Media Relations and Communications