Mental Health Support, Education and Community for Ontario Agriculture
Why We’re Here
Taking care of livestock, taking care of equipment, taking care of crops, taking care of the land. Ontario farmers are hard-working and skilled at taking care of so many things. But farmers and the agricultural community face constant, competing, and growing demands like unpredictable weather and unstable markets — so it can be a challenge to make mental health and well-being a priority.
The agricultural community plays a vital role in ensuring Ontario has a healthy economy and local food security – supporting the well-being of all Ontarians. Our programs are tailored specifically for the Ontario agricultural community to provide for their well-being as well.
Through our suite of programs, Agriculture Wellness Ontario is bringing mental health education, counselling services and enhanced community support to rural and agricultural communities across the province.
How We Are Helping
Through the Farmer Wellness Initiative, farmers across Ontario and members of their household have access to free counselling sessions with a mental health professional. The mental health professionals have received training to understand the unique needs of Ontario farmers. Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in English and French, farmers can call 1-866-267-6255 to speak to a counsellor. This service is provided by LifeWorks.
A volunteer suicide prevention program, the Guardian Network was built to support Ontario’s farming community. A Guardian is an individual, over the age of 18, who is likely to be in contact with farmers through their work, volunteer activities, or their place in their community and has successfully completed The Guardian Network training program. Guardians are equipped with strategies and tools to identify the signs of mental distress, react to farmers at-risk, and connect individuals with appropriate mental health and crisis resources.
A four-hour mental health literacy workshop, In the Know was created specifically to educate the agricultural community. Designed to fit with farmers and producers’ schedules, it distills critical information and incorporates agricultural community culture. Developed in collaboration with a stakeholder team from farming and mental health backgrounds, In the Know aims to build mental health knowledge and increase help-seeking among farmers.
Program Partners and Supporters
This project is funded in part by the Governments of Canada and Ontario under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.