New Ontario funding focuses on mental health in ag
By Bree Rody
The governments of Canada and Ontario have paired on a joint effort to support mental health in the province’s ag industry and surrounding communities. Three initiatives will receive a total of $430,000 in funding. These projects include:
- A survey on farmer mental health and agricultural literacy of mental health and professionals (Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton and Dr. Briana Hagen, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph);
- Research on existing mental health services and supports tailored to ag workers by Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW); and
- A survey on mental health impacts of disruptive events in rural Ontario by Dr. Leith Deacon (School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph). This research will focus on ways to support the development of appropriate response plans for COVID-19 and other future disruptive events.
“Many farmers and employees have faced great challenges through the pandemic, which only add to the stresses they may face every single day,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in a statement. “Agricultural mental health programs, such as these, will give Ontario farmers and employees more tools to help them address their challenges. It’s important that farmers and workers know that they should never hesitate to reach out if they’re struggling with their mental health.”
“Owning and operating a farm can be very stressful. The combination of the unique challenges of farming with the additional stresses of COVID-19 have made mental health challenges for many in the farming and rural communities more difficult,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Thanks to mental health champions like Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, our government is investing in the well-being of farmers, farm families, farm workers and everyone living in rural communities and we’re building on current knowledge, supports and resources to help them address mental health challenges”.