Global youth talk mental health at 4-H summit

More than 500 4-H youth, professionals and volunteer leaders from 70+ countries will be in Ottawa this week for the Global 4-H Network Summit (photo of participants in a 4-H Canada-Ghana exchange, courtesy Jennifer Christie)

Mental health challenges on the farm are not restricted to operators, or even their spouses…they affect their kids, too.

And that’s one reason the Global 4-H Network Summit has dedicated a session to mental health and awareness when leaders from 70 countries converge in Ottawa this week.

On Friday, July 14, the final day of the summit, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs will present a session called “Mental Health – Breaking the Stigma – Are Ewe OK?”

It highlights a program and social media campaign the association started last year in response to pressures on the UK farming industry.

Graphic from the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ program

In Scotland, statistics show nine out of 10 young people facing poor mental health receive negative treatment from others.

Scottish association chair Stuart Jamieson cited estimates that one-quarter of his country’s population will face mental health challenges during their lifetime.

He says if those same figures apply to the young farmers’ association — and there’s no reason to think they don’t — that’s more than 800 of its members.

So the “Are Ewe OK?” program “aims to educate members about mental health, so they have a better understanding of the topic, can help others, understand that mental health is just as important as physical health and so that we can break the stigma surrounding the topic,” it says.

And, it notes, making use of social media means such campaigns don’t require big budgets, another point that will be made at the summit.

Hannah Plexman (Global 4-H Network Summit Event Manager), Jennifer Christie (Chair) and Liz Jarvis (Director, Government Relations)

Erin Smith, 4-H Canada Program Director and 2017 Global 4-H Network Summit Program Co-Chair, says as an organization, 4-H believes in promoting the health and well-being — both mental and physical — of youth and their communities.

“Through our positive youth development model, we are empowering young people to address many issues they care about and find solutions to the challenges they face,” she says.

“As our youth members tell us, mental health is an important component of healthy living. It’s important for us to have focus at the Global Summit on the Environment and Healthy Living, one of our key programmatic areas to support dialogue among youth leaders and professionals.”

This is 4-H’s second global summit. More than 500 4-H youth, professionals and volunteer leaders will gather in Ottawa from July 11 to 14 for the event.

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

 

Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as

@theurbancowboy

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