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Non-profits team up to offer mental health support for farmers impacted by B.C. floods

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: impact on Fraser Valley farmers' B.C. floods: impact on Fraser Valley farmers
The recovery process for flooded farms of the Fraser valley is expected to take years, with a bill running into the billions of dollars. But beyond the financial impact, the floods have also taken a huge emotional toll on the farmers themselves, who in many cases have been working their land for generations – Nov 26, 2021

Two non-profits are teaming up to encourage B.C. farmers impacted by last month’s catastrophic flooding to access mental health support if they need it.

The Canadian Mental Health Association‘s B.C. chapter and AgSafe have launched a campaign to raise awareness about the services available for farmers coping with crippling loss and the enormity of trying to rebuild.

“Producers often feel the pressure to work hard, be strong and resilient, and not let it show or ask for help,” AgSafe director Wendy Bennett said in a Thursday press statement.

“It can be really isolating, and it’s so important that people know it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling, and it shows strength to reach out.”

AgSafe is the non-profit health and safety association for agricultural producers in B.C.

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Read more: Cars, couches, propane and fuel tanks among debris from record flooding in B.C.

Last month, record-breaking floods and landslides devastated prime agricultural land in B.C.’s lush Fraser Valley and killed thousands of livestock in their wake.

Expensive farming infrastructure, equipment and land that have been in farming families for generations have been destroyed, and the road to rebuilding will take years.

“It’s been a difficult year for all of us, but for flood-impacted farmers, they’re facing a loss of homes, livelihoods, crops and livestock,” said Jonny Morris, CEO of CMHA BC.

“Natural disasters have an immense impact on emotional health, and for those who are affected, they may experience psychological distress, sometimes soon after, but sometimes longer after the event.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Sumas Prairie farmer faces long post-flood recovery' B.C. floods: Sumas Prairie farmer faces long post-flood recovery
B.C. floods: Sumas Prairie farmer faces long post-flood recovery – Nov 29, 2021

Both AgSafe and CHMC BC are encouraging farmers to ask for help from their friends, family, community and health professionals whenever they need to — not only during times of crisis.

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They can dial the B.C. crisis line at 310-6789 from anywhere in the province at any time just to chat, or 1-800-SUICIDE for emergencies.

The organizations also recommend assisting others to help regain a sense of purpose and community, taking breaks when needed, and developing an emergency kit and plan for family, pets and livestock to put their minds at ease for the future.

Read more: Princeton, B.C. in need of long-term housing solutions amid flood recovery

The true economic cost of the B.C. floods is not yet known, but the Insurance Bureau of Canada has estimated it caused at least $450 million in insured damage.

Five people died and to this day, some of the thousands of B.C. residents displaced by the disaster have not been able to return home.

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