Farming is a great occupational choice, full of hard work and reward. Like many careers though, farming can be very stressful and extremely taxing on your mental state depending on the weather, profitability and work load.
Farmers and ranchers are very proud people where even going to the doctor is avoided at times for physical injuries nevermind mental health. Mental health is something that is rarely thought of and especially not discussed on the farm. Many of us have grown up in a rural culture that deals with depression or severe stress with the strategy of, “suck it up and get to work.”
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For many people this “suck it up” strategy works in the short term but the in the long term many things get buried which can have other impacts to your own health or family’s overall level of happiness.
Many of you will have a friend or family member (or even yourself) that deals with stress or depression with vices like alcohol or other drugs. Farm work and alcohol are a deadly combination for the drinker and unknowing co-workers. You need to make sure that you deal with your stress before it becomes a problem for you, friends and family. Depression is a serious issue that is nothing to scoff at. Feelings of low achievement, low self worth, or high stress can trigger a depressive state.
This growing season, pay attention to your mental health and make sure you are recognizing any concerning behaviors. Additionally take the time to make sure friends and family during the growing season are holding up okay during the long hours of planting, haying, spraying and harvest. Don’t be too proud to admit you are struggling and something is on your mind.
Some provinces like Saskatchewan have a 24/7 Farmer Stress Toll free number, or Alberta has the Alberta Health Link so that there is always someone to talk to. In the United States the National Alliance on Mental Illness provides some great resources. If you are aware of other services please share them in the comment box.
In my next post on this subject I will provide some ways to help manage and reduce stress and depression.