What is Mental Health?
*If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out to a health professional or the CMHA Farmer Wellness Hotline. Resources are listed toward the bottom of the newsletter. Trigger Warning: mention of suicide*
To put it simply, it's the health of your brain. Are things functioning well? Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. It's much easier
to picture physical health. If you break your leg, you and people around you know there has been an impediment to your physical health that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, mental health problems are often invisible, which can cause stigma and downplaying or ignoring the severity of the issue, often leading it to go undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated mental health problems cause a lower quality of life and can lead to a higher risk of suicide. It's very important that we normalize talking about mental health, because whatever sector or industry we find ourselves in, mental health impacts us all. If you, personally are not struggling, odds are that someone close to you is to some degree. In the National Farmer Survey of Mental Health, Jones-Bitten et al. found that in the agricultural sector, 45% of producers were classified as having High Stress, 58% met the criteria for Anxiety classification, 35% met the criterial for Depression classification and 40% reported that they would feel uneasy about seeking professional help due to what people may think. It's also important to note that these values are usually an underrepresentation.
Mental Health Problems
- Depression - Anxiety - Addiction/substance abuse - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Suicidal ideation, often caused or exacerbated by above conditions This list is by no means exhaustive, there are many brain disorders and diseases that impact humans, but these are the most common.
- Stress - Trauma - Family history/genetic predisposition - Abnormal brain chemistry
Signs and Symptoms
*This is a non-exhaustive list* Mental health problems can often manifest physically - Loss or increase of appetite - Weight loss or gain - Trouble sleeping or excess sleeping/tiredness - High blood pressure - Suppressed immune system Some things you or someone struggling might be dealing with - Loss of interest and motivation - Social withdrawal - Anger/irritability/restlessness - Substance abuse - Panic attacks - Feelings of hopelessness/despair - Degrading self care or care of environment
Barriers to Getting Help
- Stigma, while public perception is improving, there is still shame and embarrassment associated with mental health problems - Lack of resources (money, trained professionals) - Lack of time (busy schedule) - Lack of awareness/knowledge of/on the issue(s)
CMHA Farmer Wellness Initiative
Call 1-866-267-6255, accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in English and in French.
Farmers and their household are given up to 4 free counseling sessions with a mental health professional who has training to understand the unique needs of Ontario farmers. For more information visit: https://ontario.cmha.ca/farming-mental-health/farmer-wellness-initiative/
CMHA Branches in our Geography
*At the top of each website is the 24/7 hotline number for each area should you, or someone you know be in crisis or in need of support. Do not hesitate to reach out.*
As agronomists, we see some of the impacts that stress, anxiety and depression can have on farmers. We not only want what's best for your crops and your budget, but also what's best for you and your family's health and wellbeing. In this industry, there is no shortage of stressors and only so many can be managed, so it's important that we all take steps to help manage our mental health and make sure that we create an environment where others feel safe doing the same. Taking care of both your physical and mental health is important for maintaining a good quality of life. Always remember, you are not alone.
- Lyss Gingras 519-321-1454