Exploring the Connection Between Mental Health and Farm Business Management
We are excited to be working alongside Farm Management Canada and an advisory panel from across Canada to research the relationship between mental health and farm business management. Farmer mental health is increasingly acknowledged as an important topic by the federal government and occupational health care professionals. There are also organization such as the Do More Ag Foundation that are developing programs to support farmer mental health.
Our research project is specifically looking at the ways that farm management business practices and plans can support farmer mental health, and how mental wellbeing can lead to successful farm management planning. The project was highlighted in the September Cattle Country newsletter.
This summer we completed an environmental scan to assess what is already known and what work is already underway. A number of mental health stress factors that Canadian farmers face were identified in the environmental scan. These stressors include: workload pressures, isolation, financial pressures, conflicts with family, farm transition, unpredictable interference, public trust and social stigma. The environmental scan identified gaps for further exploration such as the limited scope of Canadian research related to mental health in agriculture and the effectiveness of mental health support programs and resources.
On September 26th, 2019 Farm Management Canada hosted a research project design workshop in Mississauga, Ontario. Stakeholders from all over the nation joined us to help inform the next steps of the project. Facilitated discussions took place in the morning, that provided participants with the opportunity to tell us what they are noticing within their sectors. There was a lot of discussion about how mental health issues impact farmers’ decision-making, problem solving, communication, motivation, stress management, and more. There exists a strong interest in addressing mental health issues in the farming community and organizations want to learn more about these connections as well as the best way to support mental health programs for farmers.
Later this fall we will start conducting in-person interviews and focus groups at industry events or by phone. We want to talk to a variety of farmers, farm business advisors and mental health experts. We invite those who are interested in our project to visit our webpage www.wiltongroup.ca/mental-health to stay informed on our progress. This page will also provide viewers an opportunity to join the conversation and get involved.