A prominent rural mental health organization has now become a registered charity, allowing it to further advance its cause in helping farmers address those needs.
The Do More Agriculture Foundation was recently granted charity status. The change lets it access additional funding sources to help Canadian producers, said executive director Adelle Stewart.
“It was personally important to the founders as we continue to grow and expand our offerings nationally,” Stewart said.
“We want to be the champions for all producers for supporting mental health.”
Farmers and people who work in the agriculture industry founded the organization nearly two years ago.
Its goal is to make people aware of mental health struggles on the farm and break the stigma to get more people comfortable talking about it.
The group has held speaking events and information sessions at conferences to get more people involved in the conversation.
Since then, Stewart said she has noticed more people are willing to discuss mental health.
“It’s been amazing, a real snowball effect,” Stewart said.
“There is a society that is really ready to talk about this. We’ll be the first to talk about it but, following that, more and more people are welcoming that opportunity to have these discussions.”
She said the general public has also become more interested in farming, which helps them learn about the unique stress factors that face producers.
“A lot of producers are willing to share their stories but, at the same time, not everyone is ready for that yet. We respect that, as well,” Stewart said.
“The key to mental health is meeting people where they are at. We will continue to be here for anybody when they are ready to join in the conversation.”
Obtaining charity status is only one step toward the foundation’s future goals, Stewart added.
Do More Ag wants to increase its efforts in education workshops and helping mental health professionals understand the unique challenges facing farmers. It would also like to work on research projects with other organizations.
It would also like to eventually establish an endowment fund that would supplement financial supports that it receives from partners. It would help support the day-to-day operations of the organization.