Some who work with the province’s producers are expressing concern after an online conversation about mental health on the farm.
It started with a series of tweets Wednesday from Gronlid, Sask. area farmer Kim Keller, who said she felt compelled to speak out after being contacted by someone looking to help the family of a farmer who recently took his own life.
Darren Howden, a senior vice-president with Farm Credit Canada, told 650 CKOM his travels around the province have shown him first hand that many producers are under enormous amounts of stress.
“I’ve been quite worried about how producers are really doing,” he said.
Farming has never been a forgiving business, with producers generally needing loans to keep things running until the money comes in for their crops. At the same time, factors outside anyone’s control often interfere with a farm’s cashflow.
Howden said many producers have had a tough go in recent months, particularly in the northeast part of Saskatchewan where weather prevented many farmers from getting last year’s crop harvested, with some also unable to seed this spring.
“Every day, everybody’s put into stressful situations. But for the most part, you’re able to take actions and have control of it. When it comes to this situation, there’s not a heck of a lot you can do,” Howden said.
Howden said staff at FCC offices have been advised to be on the lookout for clients who may need help.
He said he’d like to see an end to the stigma around talking about mental health in a business where old-school attitudes are still prevalent.
“Particularly in agriculture where (it’s), ‘I’m tough. I don’t need help,'” he said.
Howden said death, divorce and depression are the top three reasons farmers default on loans.
The Farm Stress Line, operated by Mobile Crisis Services, reported getting 227 calls between April 2016 and March 2017.
About a quarter of those calls dealt with issues around anxiety, stress and suicide.
— With files from Brent Bosker.