A number of rural women gathered this week in Maple Creek for the agricultural event.
Thursday night the group heard from Kim Keller, one of the founders of the Do More Ag Foundation.
She talked about the importance for people to focus on their own mental health and self-care noting we have to look after ourselves in order to help others.
“Do More Ag is industry driven and we want everyone to do more in a way that makes sense to them, and that their actually able to. I’ll never forget when it truly hit home for me that sometimes someone’s do more might be simply getting up in front of a room full of people and sharing their story."
Agriculture producers are said to be among the most vulnerable sector of society when it comes to mental health issues, as so many of the things that impact their livelihood are out of their control like the weather and the markets.
Keller says almost everyone can relate because they’ve had issues or know of someone who has or is struggling.
“The first meeting I was at, a producer stood up and said it was about damn time we’re talking about this. Then he held up both of his hands and he said, if I really think about it and I count the number of people I’ve lost to suicide on my hands, I run out of fingers.”
Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and burnout are all ranked high among producers.
The Do More Ag Foundation is a Canada wide not-for-profit with a focus on changing the culture in Agriculture to one where every single producer is encouraged and supported in taking care of their mental well-being.
She says the Foundation has three main goals around Ag Awareness and Mental Health.
“First is breaking stigma and creating awareness and education for everyone in the room. Second, is building a sense of community where people who are impacted and affected can connect and find resources. Third, is to support and fund research so we can continue gaining a better understanding of where we are as an industry and what resources we require moving forward.”
She says it’s important for producers to realize they are not alone in this, and that it’s going to take the entire industry to come together to do more.