Ontario has launched a public awareness campaign to highlight available resources to support farmers’ mental health.
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith launched the campaign on Monday in Peterborough on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Smith’s announcement coincided with the minister’s roundtable discussion Monday with members of the agricultural community about mental health issues.
“Our government cares about the well-being of our farmers and farm families and recognizes they face unique mental health challenges associated with running a farm business,” Smith said.
“We want them to know they’re not alone and it’s OK to reach out for help.”
Hardeman said the province wants to address the stigma that still surrounds mental health and find resources that can “make a difference.”
“Farming can be a tough business, one that sometimes takes a toll on farmers and their families and yet we all know people who have been reluctant to ask for help,” Hardeman said.
The province said the stress mitigation resources available include a province-wide mental health helpline (1-866-531-2600), a crisis line (211) and distress centres.
The ministry also supports a number of programs to help farmers, including research to evaluate mental health needs for farmers and farm business risk management programs to cover loss and damage.
Smith said the campaign is part of the province’s $3.8-billion investment over the next 10 years to develop and implement a “comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy” — the biggest commitment to mental health in provincial history.
“If you are a farmer who is having mental health challenges, we encourage you to reach out for help. You are not alone,” Smith said.
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