Farm Management Canada, in conjunction with the Wilton Consulting Group, has released a comprehensive report looking at not only stress and mental wellness within the farming sector, but also the impact mental health has on the business side of farming.
In the report entitled Healthy Minds Healthy Farms, most farmers reported “undesirable coping mechanisms that may contribute to poor mental health including working more hours and losing sleep, attending social or family gatherings less, and feeling less in control of their emotions.”
The report is a compilation of a literature review and review of existing programs and resources that support farmer mental health, in addition to surveys and focus groups. A national study included a survey of 1,735 farmers, 14 focus groups, and 72 one-on-one interviews with farmers and industry representatives. The survey made use of Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) Vision Panel through a partnership between the research team, Farm Management Canada, and FCC. Primary research took place between October 2019 and March 2020.
Stress is everywhere in farming; well over half of Canadian farmers are categorized with mid-stress scores, and 14 per cent were identified with high stress. Three out of four Canadian farmers indicate being moderate to high stress about unpredictable interference, workload pressures and lack of time, and financial constraints. The most likely to report feeling stressed are women and young farmers (of which the report found young farmers were less effective at coping with stress), and growing farms were more likely to be stressed than mature businesses.
The report also lists key recommendations and actions items stemming from the report, namely:
- Continue raising awareness around the importance of farmer mental health.
- Support the improvement of mental health literacy for farmers and those supporting farmers.
- Deliver business management advice, tools, and training that focuses on risk management and preparedness as a means of facing uncertainty.
- Advocate for farmer-specific mental health support services.