Farmers are a minority in Ontario, living within a context that frequently limits access to mental health services and resources, continues to carry cultural and social stigmas around the subject of mental health, and can often be socially isolated or remote. Historically, government programming and assistance has focused on economic support and business risk management. There is, however, a significant deficit in the support available to farmers when it comes to their mental health. As a minority group in Ontario, under-represented in the study of mental health, OFA believes farmers’ mental health deserves special attention and the investment of long-term, dedicated funding from all levels of government.
OFA strongly believes both the federal and provincial governments must work collaboratively to fully implement the 10 recommendations from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture Report, Mental Health: A Priority for our Farmers. These 10 recommendations also reaffirm OFA’s longstanding positions on the need for broadband internet service across rural Ontario, the need for government to consider the impact of new regulations on agriculture, and the need to defend farmers’ right to practice.
The Ontario farm community needs accessible and culturally relevant mental health resources and training to promote wellness and build resilience to withstand the enormous occupational stresses they face. We have a tremendous opportunity to build a sustainable approach to research, develop evidence-based programming, and create awareness and support specific for farmer mental health.
If you or someone you know is in distress and needs help, there are people and resources available that can help. If you’re in an urgent crisis, please visit your local emergency department or call 911 immediately.
Ontario Mental Health Line
Call ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600
Live information and referral specialists are standing by. Call 24/7 for information and referral.
You can also use a chat online, email, and access additional resources from
Distress and Crisis Ontario
Distress Centres are available across Ontario offering confidential, private support for anyone who is in distress or crisis.
At a Distress Centre you can find a listening ear for lonely, depressed, and/or suicidal people, usually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many centres also have Suicide Survivor programs, support services for youth, telephone call out programs for seniors and vulnerable people, mental health Crisis Lines services and much more.
A complete listing of regional centres and contact information is available at www.dcontario.org/centres.
For additional information, check out OFA’s Mental Health Resource Sheet.
Do More Ag Foundation
OFA is joining other agricultural stakeholders, researchers from the University of Guelph, and mental health professionals in calling for the establishment of a Centre for Farmer Mental Health and Wellness. This Centre would provide a well-organized, systematic approach to developing easily accessible, evidence-based resources and interventions for farmers and rural residents. It could also provide an opportunity to coordinate interdisciplinary research into the diverse mental health and wellness issues faced by the whole agriculture and agri-food system. OFA believes this is crucial first step towards addressing the needs of a historically under-represented group.
OFA provides partnership and funding to several projects in support of mental health and wellness in agriculture.
- Lennox and Addington Farmer Wellness Program with Deb Vanberkel of Cultivate Counselling Services. For more information on the program, visit farmerwellnessprogram.ca.
- The Do More Ag Foundation – a Canadian not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing mental health literacy and access to funding for Mental Health First Aid.
- OFA jointly hosted a Mental Health in Agriculture workshop with L&A Farmer Wellness Program for attendees at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show in March 2019.
- OFA has provided funding and has representatives on the University of Guelph stakeholder working group for mental health in agriculture. The working group is developing the ‘In the Know’ mental health literacy programming for rural and agricultural communities.
- Partnership with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to address key safety issues affecting Ontario farmers, agriculture employees and farm families.
OFA supports farmers and farm families towards balanced mental health and acknowledge the causes of mental health challenges are many, complicated, and do not come with a quick or easy solution. OFA understands the challenges of farming and that they can take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing.
OFA recognizes the challenge of mental health in agriculture is a complex and multi-factorial issue and believe it requires a comprehensive and coordinated, long-term approach. Through advocacy and support, OFA will work to help reduce the barriers to improved mental health and resilience within our agricultural community.