Michele Payn says mental health challenges among farmers and people who work in the industry are a problem, citing research that shows suicide rates are 50 percent higher in agriculture than in the general population. | Getty Images

Sharing breaks mental health stigma

Having the discussion can lead to more supports for people living in rural areas, says agriculture industry representative

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Michele Payn recalled what she calls one of the worst phone calls of her life. It was her parents. They told her they were selling all of their dairy cows and that they had lost the entire farm to bankruptcy. “That experience divided our family and it made me want to lay […] Read more

Alexis Epp, left, of Saskatoon and Elaina Guilmette, a teacher at the Sun West Distance Learning Centre in Kenaston, Sask., collaborated to help develop the school’s new Mental Wellness 30 course, which was launched in September. Guilmette will teach the online course while Epp has been hired and trained as a peer supporter for students enrolled in the course.  |  Sun West Distance Learning Centre photo

Mental wellness goes to school

A new course in Saskatchewan teaches high school and university students how to manage mental health challenges

Alexis Epp has turned a negative situation positive. Her years of battling mental illness are now being directed to helping other young people who might experience similar issues. As a teenager she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as a medical system that did not seem able to help her. Eventually, she got […] Read more

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 75 farmers and agriculture professionals that mostly live in Ontario.

They extrapolated common themes from the interviews, finding public scrutiny was one topic that participants often discussed. | Getty Images

Farmers feel increasingly under attack

QUEBEC CITY — Farmers are feeling increasingly under attack by the general public, according to new data, putting them in situations that add stress to their lives. The University of Guelph qualitative study found a general theme of producers saying they face more public scrutiny, which in turn creates additional stress. “There was a surprising […] Read more

Life is now good for Adam Watson with wife Laura and young son Abel.  |  Chris McCullough photo

Young U.K. farmer opens up about depression

A dairy producer from Northern Ireland shares his story about dealing with what he calls the ‘black hood’ of depression

Three years ago, Northern Ireland dairy farmer Adam Watson was not in a good place. Stress from falling milk prices and his forthcoming wedding started to affect his mental health. Little did Watson know then that those pressures would boil over and push him to a point where he seriously considered taking his own life. […] Read more

A recent survey found that farmers feel increasingly vilified by uninformed public opinion about livestock production and by campaigns organized by animal activist groups.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Animal neglect linked to mental health

A veterinarian draws a direct link between producers’ mental health and the well-being of the livestock in their care

OTTAWA — Stories about livestock that are found to be confined, neglected, emaciated or dead on a farmer’s property tend to generate big headlines. “I don’t understand how anyone could do that,” is the resulting refrain. Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton has heard that common response. “Frankly, if you can’t understand that, it’s probably a good thing. […] Read more

Hannah Kemp grooms a heifer at Farmfair International, where she has successfully shown Main-Tainer cattle.  She is also part of her family’s effort to set up a scholarship to promote mental health.   |  Barbara Duckworth photo

Ranch family tackles mental health

A suicide attempt prompts Alberta producer to set up scholarship for the promotion of mental health awareness

EDMONTON — Lee Kemp flashes a smile through fluffy white whiskers, but behind the good humoured face are fresh memories of his struggles with mental health. After a bout in hospital last spring following a suicide attempt, the Alberta farmer learned it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help or talk about […] Read more

Amber Fletcher told the House of Commons agriculture committee that rising input costs, driven by the corporate need for profit, are reducing the ability for farmers to profit.  |  Getty Images

Higher incomes not alleviating farm stress

Despite a rising trend in farm income over the last 10 years, farmers are experiencing significant uncertainty and stress, says a University of Regina researcher. Dr. Amber Fletcher, speaking to the House of Commons agriculture committee during its study of mental health, said her analysis of farm income between 1981 and 2017 “shows that since […] Read more

High stress levels, isolation and lack of access to mental health care are combining to push agricultural producers to their breaking points, according to a mental health expert.
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Farmers pushed to breaking point: expert

Suicide prevention is identified as a key way to address the mental health pressures that producers are facing

High stress levels, isolation and lack of access to mental health care are combining to push agricultural producers to their breaking points, according to a mental health expert. Testifying at the House of Commons agriculture committee last week, the president of the Mental Health Commission of Canada said a number of practical measures are required […] Read more

The House of Commons agriculture committee has agreed to study rural mental health. | Getty image

MPs study mental health services for farmers

An advocate for better mental health support for farmers says the House of Commons agriculture committee’s decision to study the issue is a good step forward. Kim Keller, a Saskatchewan farmer who co-founded DoMoreAg, said she hopes the committee work will complement research that has already been done, such as that at Ontario’s University of […] Read more