Two, multi-year mental health initiatives targeted to the agricultural sector have been announced by the federal and Ontario governments. The $7 million budget will support free counselling services through The Guardians Network and a new program modelled after the Farmer Wellness Program pioneered by mental health specialist Deborah Vanberkel.
These initiatives are expected to launch early in 2022 and will be developed in consultation with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and other mental health sector experts.
“The farming community has demonstrated great strength and resilience throughout the pandemic, but mental health challenges often go unseen. If you are struggling, the first step is to reach out, because you are not alone in facing these challenges,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “These new agricultural mental health programs expand resource availability to help Ontario farmers and employees if they’re struggling with their mental health.”
“I very much understand and appreciate how stressful running a farm can be, working 365 days a year and dealing with unpredictable weather, commodity prices and increasing costs of production,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Add in the pandemic, and these pressures are having a real effect on the mental health of farmers and their families. That’s why our government is providing the necessary funding for these programs, and is committed to doing everything we can to help address these challenges and support mental health in our farming communities.”
Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs November 22, 2021 news release