Pictured: Roberta Galbraith, Farmer and Vice Chair of the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program and Katharyn Houston, Western Manitoba Territory Manager for CANTERRA SEEDS
If you have ever worked or lived on a farm, then you know the passion and commitment farmers have to the land, their crop, their animals, and the industry that makes the world go round. Farming is not just a job; it is a way of life. Yet stressful, tumultuous, and uncertain, with their livelihoods depending on factors they have such little control over. It’s no wonder farming is considered one of the hardest jobs in the world.
According to an article posted by the Centre for Suicide Prevention, it is estimated that 225 million farmers worldwide struggle with their mental health. In further research, a survey of over 1,100 Canadian producers found that anxiety, high stress and depression are among the highest mental health complications faced by farmers.
The Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program, created specifically for farmers and their families, offers no-cost, short-term confidential counselling services by counselling professionals with a background in agriculture.
“Programs like [these] allow farmers to access critical resources that are confidential, timely and not financially burdensome,” says Roberta Galbraith, who serves as Vice Chair on the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program and nominated the program for a $2,500 Rooted in the Prairies Project donation.
Galbraith, also a managing partner of RNR Galbraith Farms, has been farming for 35 years. She understands firsthand the challenges farmers face, and not knowing where to turn during difficult times.
Most health care practitioners and mental health resources tend to be in cities, whereas most farmers reside in rural areas, making it difficult for farmers to access mental health care. That, coupled with the demands of the farm that make it hard to get away for long periods of time, makes it difficult for farmers to get the help they need, at the time they need it.
“It is so very important to support the farmers that feed us all,” says Galbraith, who believes the counselling provided is vital to maintaining healthy farms and communities and helping build success.
The donation provided by CANTERRA SEEDS will be used by the Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program to provide counselling sessions for farmers.
“The community is talking about mental health and wellness and prioritizing it. That is a great first step,” says Galbraith, who looks ahead to future programs with the goal of promoting health and wellness.
CANTERRA SEEDS’ Rooted in the Prairies Project supports local non-profit organizations nominated by the agriculture community across Western Canada. Now in its second year, the project has more than doubled its investment with seventeen worthy causes across the Prairies selected for assistance this year.
Hagen, B. N. M., A. Albright, J. Sargeant, C. B. Winder, S. L. Harper, T. L. O’Sullivan et A. Jones-Bitton. « Research trends in farmers’ mental health: A scoping review of mental health outcomes and interventions among farming populations worldwide », PLoS One, vol. 14, no 12, article e0225661 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225661
Jones-Bitton, A., C. Best, J. MacTavish, S. Fleming et S. Hoy. « Stress, anxiety, depression, and resilience in Canadian farmers », Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 55, no 2 (2020), p. 229-236. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-019-01738-2