A FarmTech Conference held in Edmonton broke ground recently after holding their first group discussion surrounding mental health among the farming community.
According to the Globe and Mail, when the crowd was asked to stand if they knew someone who had taken their own life, hardly anyone was left sitting in their chairs. The two women leading the discussion were the wives of farmers that had grown up on farms themselves and had recently become vocal around the emotional struggles that farmers face.
Basically, the farmers were saying that they were always told to ‘hold it in’ because they always had to wake up the next day and start all over again.
This issue doesn’t surprise me for a number of reasons, nor do I think it would surprise the average person to know that farmers don’t talk about their feelings.
Behind curtain number one is my disclaimer saying that I think that farmers obviously play an invaluable role in Canadian society, but I think that the culture of running a family farm has up until this point been inseparably associated with the past. And what do we know about people in the past? They had almost no vocabulary surrounding their mental health.
The very essence of small-town Canadian farming is adherence to tradition; traditional genders, traditional feelings, and traditional work pace. But with the emergence of what I’m going to call the Complete Connection™ (essentially the fact that everyone even farmers have internet and Netflix), the young farming community is just a susceptible to the widespread anxiety that plagues every child that grew up with the ability to click away the pain. I hate myself for that last sentence, but IT’S TRUE.
Not only that, but there have barely been any mental health services readily available to farming communities even if they didn’t reject them. And why? Because to some extent, anxiety and mental illness are associated with intellectualism. If you’re an intelligent professor with a wonderful life and crippled by your anxiety, you’re allowed to talk about it because you live in the prison of your own beautiful mind. But if you work in a field every day and depend on environmental circumstances for your livelihood, your life sucks, so no wonder you’re so depressed!
On the other side of the country in P.E.I., the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture is for the first time in years, looking to the provincial government for help funding a program that provides six free counseling sessions to farmers and their families. The program is on a small scale, but the effects that it has had have not gone unnoticed by the community.
At least one person dies by suicide in Alberta every day and 75 percent of those deaths are men. We no longer live in the past, where you rolled off your hay mattress and stepped over your 15 kids sleeping on the floor to go to work in the fields by dawn. If the technological culture of farming can be brought into 2018, then why not the emotional culture?
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.