HAVE YOU STOPPED doing the activities you normally enjoy? Are you feeling sad, angry or “not yourself ”? Have your friends told you they’re concerned?
As a farmer, there are many challenges every day. Whether they are operational, personal or business-related or as a result of a loss, sometimes they are overwhelming. Perhaps you have been thinking about seeing a counsellor for a while but really don’t know where to go or who to see? That is what a new initiative called the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program is aimed at addressing. Farmers can make appointments with qualified counsellors with a background in agriculture. They can have up to six, one-on-one, confidential counselling sessions with a counsellor that understands agriculture, can support them and meet on their schedule.
The grassroots non-profit of the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program is spearheaded by Gerry Friesen (The Recovering Farmer), Marcel Hacault (retired executive director of Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, past chair of Manitoba Pork), Roberta Galbraith (farmer and past member relations manager with Manitoba Canola Growers), Kim Moffat (farm wellness consultant who worked with Manitoba Farm, Rural and Northern Support Services) and Dr. Briana Hagen (PhD in the Department of Population Medicine with Ontario Veterinary College).
The 2015 research study from the University of Guelph found that many farmers had high levels of stress. Further to that study, a 2020 report by Farm Management Canada found a direct link between mental health and business management. Marcel Hacault stated, “In my former job with agricultural safety, people who have been injured often cite things like “being tired” and “not being focused” when the incident occurred. Upon reflection, perhaps the overriding issue was mental health.”
We know the mental health of farmers is top of mind this year. With the drought, unexpected trade barriers and rising costs alongside the pandemic, there are lots of stressors. The biggest difference is that now there is a service for those farmers that want support. This is not a government program, it is not a stress or crisis line, it is not a self-help service. This program fills a gap that has been identified by farmers who have sought out services. In essence, it is timely, focused, one-on-one counselling sessions that fill a direct need for farmers.
The Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program is built by farmers for farmers. Don’t let stigma hold you back from seeking help. Go to our website, manitobafarmerwellness.ca and book an appointment. It is simple, quick and easy to access.
If you or your organization wants to financially support this non-profit, reach out to one of the board members, or donate via the site. There is no farm without the farmer. ■