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Ontario to provide more resources to help with mental health


November 23, 2021
By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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Ottawa and Ontario are investing more than $7 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to launch two, new multi-year mental health initiatives that are specialized to support those in the agriculture sector.

The Guardians Network and a new program modelled after the successful Farmer Wellness Program pioneered by mental health specialist Deborah Vanberkel, will help protect Ontario’s progress in the fight against COVID-19 by providing farm families across the province with free counselling services as well as help connect at-risk farmers with tailored support and resources.

These initiatives are expected to launch early next year and will be developed in consultation with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and other mental health sector experts.

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“The farming community has demonstrated great strength and resilience throughout the pandemic, but mental health challenges often go unseen. If you are struggling, the first step is to reach out, because you are not alone in facing these challenges,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “These new agricultural mental health programs expand resource availability to help Ontario farmers and employees if they’re struggling with their mental health.”

“I very much understand and appreciate how stressful running a farm can be, working 365 days a year and dealing with unpredictable weather, commodity prices and increasing costs of production,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Add in the pandemic, and these pressures are having a real effect on the mental health of farmers and their families. That’s why our government is providing the necessary funding for these programs, and is committed to doing everything we can to help address these challenges and support mental health in our farming communities.”

As part of the Government of Ontario’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to build a modern, connected mental health and addictions system that serves all Ontarians, the two new initiatives will improve the agriculture sector’s access to supports that better meet their needs.

Earlier this year, Thompson also announced $385,000 to expand the In the Know mental health literacy program to help reduce some of stigma around mental health, encourage more open discussion, and help connect the farm community with the resources and support they need.

Ontario farmers can also access the government’s Mental Health for Farmers – First Aid Kit online.


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