Agriculture stress is real and we need to keep talking about it

Photo by Alon, CC by 2.0.

The agriculture community is full of very strong-willed, independent people that excel at what they do. We also take pride in helping each other out. But the fact remains that farmers and ranchers fall short on identifying and discussing the need for help when it comes to mental health.

One of our industry’s greatest strengths is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again. This resilience assists in battling unfavourable or untimely weather, markets going the wrong way, or any other variable that impacts agriculture. But it also is a problem.

When we pride ourselves on the “bulletproof” culture of “I can manage through anything,” we create a culture that looks at mental health challenges as weaknesses, as being soft. We equate the physical toughness of farmers to the mental toughness, but we forget that just like physical bumps and bruises, your mental state can also require healing.

Kim Keller (Twitter)

Kim Keller, Saskatchewan farmer and co-founder of Saskatchewan Women in Ag, has led a tremendous push on this traditionally untouchable topic.

Kim’s above tweet has gained her appearances on Global, John Gormley, CBC, CTV and other media outlets over the last week, discussing mental health in agriculture and how a change in culture is necessary.

Please listen to this discussion with Kim Keller about why mental health is so important to address in agriculture, why it’s so important to admit “hey, me too,” and where we go from here.

Kim’s tweet and the conversation coming from it has also spurred others, including Sandi Brock and Amy Matheson in their tribute to #Plant17, to keep the conversation going about mental health in ag and rural communities.

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Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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One Comment

Brad Martin

Thank you talking about this. The effects of suicide reach deeper and farther than anyone can imagine. The day I got the phone call 11 years ago I will never forget. I had spoken to my brother for 30 minutes just 10 hours before never was there a sign of what was to come. Had I seen a red flag or he asked for help I would have immediately departed for the 1 hour drive to our family farm. There is nothing like a rural farming community! There just needs to be better awareness thru out these communities about how much each farmer matters and that people are there to help. I wish my brother could have seen how much his community cared and got together when we were searching for him. As news trickled thru out our small town that he was missing within an hour there were 50 farmers in the yard wanting to help. In the next hour there were 150 farmers wanting to help. We ran out of daylight but at 6am the next morning farmers had set up a camp at the end of the lane with coffee, breakfast and lunch would be prepared there as well. There were over 300 farmers waiting to search. They had brought their quads and two farmers with Cessna’s were there to start an aerial search. The outcome was not what we had hoped that afternoon but I will never forget what my brothers community did for him. I wish my brother had spoken to one of those farmers that helped in his search as I know they would have been there for him as I would have. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem in my opinion.

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