This is a re-post of a sidebar to a Canola Digest article from last fall….
Canola Digest asked Janet Smith about common stressors on the farm. Smith is the manager of counseling services (farm, rural and northern) and the suicide prevention coordinator with Klinic Community Health in Manitoba. She says finances, weather, work-life balance and family issues inspire many people to call in. These factors are often related. Family stress can occur because the farmer struggles to find work-life balance during busy times of year. Marriage breakups sometimes result, which adds to the stress.
A few specific questions and conversations to the stress line recently have been:
–As a farmer and a woman, I have to manage multiple responsibilities. I feel like I’m burning out sometimes. Help!
–My husband is struggling with what looks like depression and anxiety, but he won’t talk about it or go for help. It happens at the same time every year, but he just doesn’t see it.
–Our relationship is in trouble. All our energies go into the farm, but I desperately want to save our marriage too.
–I can’t sleep, I’m angry all the time and I just can’t get motivated. Sometimes it feels like I’m going crazy. I either retreat into silence or take it out on my family and friends. What can I do?
–I don’t have the cattle anymore to get me going in the mornings. I feel like I’m losing my sense of purpose.
–My kids don’t want to take over the farm. We have farmed this land for generations, so it kind of feels like a death in the family.
Call farm stress lines to talk about these issues or anything else causing stress. Some websites also offer chat services and printable options.
British Columbia: CRISIS Centre BC 24-hour support. Phone 1-800-784-2433 or 310-6789. Website: crisiscentre.bc.ca
Alberta: Mental Health Hotline 24-hour support. Phone: 1-877-303-2642 Website
Saskatchewan: Farm Stress Line. Phone: 1-800-667-4442 Website: mobilecrisis.ca/farm-stress-line
Manitoba: Manitoba Farm, Rural Support & Northern Support Services. M-F 10 a.m. to 9pm – Phone 1-866-367-3276 After hours – 1-888-322-3019 Website: supportline.ca
Ontario: Mental Health Help Line. Phone: 1-866-531-2600 Website: connexontario.ca
Smith suggests people check out a free app and website called Calm in the Storm. It rates your personal stress levels, and offers various tools and techniques to manage stress. “It is not specifically for farmers, but we think there are some excellent resources there for anyone to use,” Smith says.