Synergy is hoping to start a conversation about local farmers’ mental health as it hosts an all day facilitated workshop in Langdon with Do More Ag on Dec. 6.
“We had the opportunity to bring a number of different workshops to our community and part of our service area is Langdon and east Rocky View,” said Coralee McIntosh, who is part of the leadership team at Synergy. “There's a lot of agriculture on the east side of Rocky View County. So we wanted to make sure that we're having the chance for everyone to take part in workshops that really can affect and have an impact on the work that they're doing and their mental health in the community.
“We just wanted to make sure that we can support as much as the population, and the people in our community, as we can.”
According to a recent report published by Great West Media, the mental health of farmers is far worse than the national average.
Nationally, the mental health of farmers is generally worse than the rest of the population, and declined even further during the pandemic, according to research from the University of Guelph. Stress, anxiety, depressions, emotional exhaustion: researchers found the mental health of farmers was worse than the general population in almost every way.
Suicidal ideation among farmers is more than twice as high among farmers than other Canadians, according to the 2021 Survey of Farmer Mental Health. And research from the Centres for Disease Control has found higher rates of suicide among agricultural workers than any other profession.
It is these startling statistics Synergy is hoping to help address in the upcoming Do More Ag workshop.
“We know that it hasn't been easy for farmers and ranchers over the last few years with drought conditions, and the way that they've been, and just the cost of all the inputs going up and everything like that,” said McIntosh. “It's a very different industry than in some other ones. We wanted to make sure they had the help and the support they need as well.”
McIntosh is hoping local members of the agriculture industry will pre-register and attend.
“Just to be able to bring some awareness and understanding to mental health, and ways that you can access the supports that are available to you locally,” she explained. “And just learn how to start those conversations; whether it's within your family, within your friend group, with the neighbor down the road, anything like that. Just have people be more open to having those conversations, and starting those conversations, and help each other out as much as they can.”
The free session goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Track Golf Course at 333 Boulder Creek Drive in Langdon. A free lunch and other refreshments will be provided.
Those wishing to attend are asked to pre-register at www.eventbrite.ca under “Talk Ask Listen In Chestermere, AB” by Dec. 5.
-With files from Brett McKay/ Great West Media