Mental health support in the agricultural community

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A person walks away from the camera through a fully-grown, ready-for-harvest wheat field, grazing their hands along the tops of the crops.
The whimsey of a wheat field frolic is hard to beat. Pexels via Pixabay

Technology makes it possible for farmers to uplift each other

The stigma around mental health is daunting and difficult to navigate for everybody. Individuals with signs of illness oftentimes struggle to seek help and ask for assistance. Professions in agriculture are said to have the lowest support system in terms of mental health.  

On June 20, 2023, a peer-to-peer support for individuals in the Canadian agricultural industry was launched by Megz Reynolds, Executive Director for the Do More Agriculture Foundation. AgTalk, powered by Togetherall platform, is a free platform that helps farmers connect to other farmers in anonymity, sharing positive and uplifting messages in the community. The partners in the project also included Royal Bank of Canada, Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik, and the McCain Foundation.  Anyone aged 16 or above can sign up for this platform and get access to its safe and monitored-by-professionals space. Being monitored 24/7 by mental health clinicians and availed in both English and French, the platform is open to everyone in Canada, giving them a safe space to talk, share, and help. 

“What I really love about peer-to-peer is that you’re able to connect with people who understand what you’re going through. But they do not know who you are and you do not know who they are and that makes it feel a little safer and easier to have a conversation or reach out for support,” said Reynolds in a SeedWorld Group Podcast. “There’s a really big need for peer-to peer support but when you talk to an individual, they don’t want it peer-to-peer with someone that’s in their same province. They want to be able to connect with someone that doesn’t know them but has shared, lived experience,” added Reynolds. Catering to this need, they decided to keep it anonymous yet have supervision to avoid any friction in the lives of the folks involved in the community.  

The resources and communication are available only when an individual signs up on their platform identifying someone from the Canadian agricultural industry and being 16 or above. The tools that are being provided allow users to seek help in times of need. Farmers often face extraordinary stress, isolation due to their nature of work which is deeply intertwined with unpredictable weather and financial uncertainties. “Not everybody is comfortable with some of the more traditional modalities of mental health support; to phone a support line, especially if it’s called a crisis line, because they may not feel like they’re in a place of crisis. But they may want to have a conversation or just need a safe place to get some thoughts,” said Reynolds on discussing the need of a unique platform like AgTalk.  

With its growing popularity in the agricultural industry, AgTalk stands true to its community as a beacon of hope. It delivers the support needed for people who work tirelessly to feed our world. The platform bears the potential to educate them for their mental well-being and at the same time help the entire community.  If you’re someone who identifies as a part of the Canadian agricultural industry and wants to seek support of any kind (crisis or not), sign up today at domore.ag/agtalk. It is a step forward to thriving, illuminating the path towards superior mental health in the farming community.  

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