FARMING AND MENTAL HEALTH
So, I grew up on a farm. I spent the first 18 or 19 years of my life on the farm doing, you know, the usual stuff. And what I didn't realize was the impact that farming in general had on my mental health, and most definitely the mental health of family members. And just to qualify that a little bit more, one of our family members had a firsthand experience with mental health challenges in that they, because of all the pressures and everything else that was going on, they ended up taking their own life. And, you know, when you think about that and the impact that that has, how that deprived other family members of having more time with that particular individual, having them, you know, being able to provide the leadership for younger members of the family so that, you know, we can move forward with our lives and learn and grow from the, you know, the experience of this particular individual not taking into account the whole mental health umbrella. Large part of that, and there were some other things that went on that I'm not going to elaborate on in this video, but there was definitely a stigma, just as there is in a lot of other professions, and just as for males in general, is the stigma about it's a sign of weakness if you admit to the fact that you're struggling with mental health challenges. And certainly the agriculture industry is no different. That stigma is there. And like I said, at the beginning of this video was the fact that I grew up on a farm. So I'm very much aware of the whole idea of what you could talk about and what you couldn't talk about. And, you know, struggling, dealing with mental health and all those things were all things that you did not talk about, for sure. What's interesting is that about 225 million farmers worldwide struggle with mental health and mental health challenges. 225 million. You know, and when I think back to the time that I spent on the farm, we didn't explore, you know, the numbers like that, because that would have helped us identify that there was a need to do something. So what are some of the factors that we need to be mindful of? And when we look at the agriculture industry, farming in general, and the first one that comes to mind is the financial uncertainty. And I know that we went through a time period where financially the farms struggled. That's probably the softest way to describe it. The farm did struggle. And there was a definite need for us to come up with a solution, which of course was we ended up selling the farm. What was interesting was that the farm was offered to me as the oldest boy on the farm. Farm was offered to me and I made a, what I think today is a rational decision to not stay on the farm. And I ended up moving away and starting a different profession or career. So financial uncertainty is definitely one and with the markets and everything being what they are today, that certainly would stand out. There's barriers to actually getting mental health services. So because of the rural proximity, the remoteness and all of that, there's definitely a challenge in getting those mental health services. I know when I was going through and I was an active law enforcement officer stationed in rural locations that I didn't have access to any support from, you know, mental health services, access to a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, all that. We had none of that. And the farming industry is, was and still is to some extent, not much different than that. There's a blurred distinction between work and home, home life. So, you know, it would be so nice if we could just kind of leave it, leave it at the office when in fact, you know, the farm becomes part of your life and things that happen out on the North 40 come back to the kitchen table at supper time for discussion. And sometimes it, you know, it, it raises issues that we need to be, to be looking at. And then one of the other things that I know, for a fact, and I've seen it in a couple different places is the fact that there's, there's easy access to firearms. So on the farm, you, you know, obviously for hunting and, and all of those things that you actually have access to a firearm. So it, it provides, it gives you the opportunity that if you did make a decision, that that's the path you're going to take, you have easy access, you know, to, to a firearm to be able to do that. What we need to do communities as a whole, organizations, all of those that, especially when it comes to the farming industry, agriculture in general, is we need to have a support structure in place that's going to be there for, for the farmers who are struggling with those mental health challenges, that support structure. It needs to be in each and every community that, you know, that we're talking about. And people that are part of that support structure, and even you as, as a listener to this video, you need to understand the symptoms of mental health. And you need to know where to go to get help. And we, you know, we've improved a great deal over the course of years and decades in that. So there are services available, but you just need to know where to go to, to get access to them. So that's something else that you need to, you know, be mindful of. And if you think this isn't a major issue, do some searches on the internet if you get a chance. And I was blown away this morning when I was doing a bit of research in preparation for this video was the how, what the statistics are for the number of people in the agriculture farming industry, what the statistics actually are for the number of people who, who death by suicide, and doesn't have to be that way. You know, all I have to do is just think back to growing up as a youngster and, and losing a family member to, to suicide because of, you know, no support structure. There's a stigmatism attached with reaching out and asking for help. And if there's nothing else that at the end of this video, if there's nothing else that you take away other than the fact that you need to reach out, you need to ask for help, and help will be there for you. But you have to take that step, you have to extend your hand and say, I need help. And if you do, there will be help available for you. And so when you get a chance, I hope you can listen to this. And like I said, it's well worth your time and effort to do some quick searches on the internet and search on agriculture, and mental health, and you'll be quite surprised at what you're going to come up with. So in closing, take care. Thank you for listening and God bless.