Agknow and Agsafe Alberta have partnered together to host a virtual ‘in the know’ workshop geared towards farmers' and ranchers' mental health.  

The newest statistics revealed that about 45 percent of farmers across Canada have a high stress level, while 58 percent meet the threshold for anxiety and 45 percent are depressed. 1 in 4 Canadian farmers have felt like life is not worth living, wished that they were dead or have thought about taking their own life in the last 12 months. Farmers are also having higher levels of burnout and a high level of emotional exhaustion.  

The workshop is February 22 at 1:00 p.m. and you can register by going to Developed by researchers at Guelph University, the end goal of the program is for farmers to be able to describe stress, anxiety, depression, acute trauma, suicide, substance abuse and recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges. 

They should also be able to find out the appropriate approaches for engaging in safe conversation about mental health with someone who is struggling and to find the appropriate solution to help. 

Agricultural and Environmental Program Coordinator for Wheatland County Alyssa Hallgrimson explains that it is important for farmers to understand their mental health and stop for a minute when they feel like they are about to burn out.  

“The farms are their life, and their life is the farm and in a perfect world, everything's supposed to run smoothly. But there's always going to be the next thing to fix, feed or care for.” 

While being outside is known to help with your mental health, Hallgrimson said the reverse can actually be true for farmers who are doing it for 20 plus hours a day. Staying outside that long can be draining, so it's very important for farmers to take a minute for themselves instead of just thinking of the farm. She also encourages people who are close to a farmer to look out for the signs of anxiety, depression or over stress.  

“If you sit down at lunch, mid calving season and you ask your significant other, dad, grandpa or your mom how things are going, and they just shrug their shoulders and don't say much then that might be an indicator of their mental health.”  

As we get closer to the sunnier weather farming is starting to pick back up in full force with calving and seeding to start very quickly and Hallgrimson says that she would like to have these workshops every four months so that farmers can have a mental health check in and know their triggers.  

“You have to let them know that they can't control the weather, they also can't control sale prices and fertilizer prices. That shouldn’t put them down, they should keep their head up and focus a little bit more on themselves.”  

For more information about the farmers mental health workshops visit AgKnow and for more information on more of the workshops and dates to come visit the Wheatland County website and go onto their events page.  

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