OTTAWA — Research reveals that farmers have much higher rates of stress than the rest of the population and living in rural areas, as well as stigma, can make seeking help more difficult.
But help is out there for those who need it and for those who can help a neighbour. Here is a list of mental health specialists and organizations offering services in rural areas
• The Farmer Wellness Initiative: Yes, you can call at 3 a.m. This service offers free counselling to farmers and their families 24/7/365. Counsellors have been trained to understand unique stresses facing farmers.
• Regional walk-in and online counselling clinics: Every major centre has at least one. Offers immediate, confidential, single-session counselling services. Sessions up to 1.5 hours and in many cases a single concentrated visit is all that is required. Service funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Tuesdays: Phone or online sessions, Noon – 6:30 p.m., call 613-238-8210 or 613-755-2277.
Wednesdays: Onsite and online sessions, 109 Banting Dr., Deep River, 1 p.m. — 6 p.m., call 613-584-3358 or 613-755-2277
Thursdays: Online and by phone, 11:30 a.m.- 6 p.m., call 1-844-441-0981 or in Renfrew County call 613-755-2277.
Thursdays: Walk-in and online, 26 Montreal Rd., Cornwall. 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. Call 613-932-4610 or 613-755-2277.
• Bounceback: A free over-the-phone skill-building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Designed for ages 15+. A couple of days after signing up, participants have access to a trained coach who can provide up to six telephone sessions. A self-help service aimed at individuals with mild to moderate depression, anxiety or worry. Coaches offer online videos and other resources.
• Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): This is not an emergency or crisis service. Therapy offers a practical short-term, online program that teaches strategies to address symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression. Starts at $50 for one-time assessment. Access this service through mindbeacon.com or ontario.abiliticbt.com/home. Recommended by Dundas Federation of Agriculture.
• The Guardian Network: A community-based and evidence-informed volunteer suicide prevention program presented by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Guardians are equipped with strategies and tools to identify signs of mental distress to help farmers at risk and connect them with the appropriate resources. Anyone over the age of 18 who is in contact with farmers through their work or community and has successfully completed the training, can become a Guardian.
• In the Know: A free mental health literacy training program developed at the University of Guelph by members of the agricultural community for the agriculture community. Pilot project began in 2019. Through this free, four-hour workshop, participants cover the topics of stress, depression, anxiety, substance use and how to start a conversation around mental well-being. The workshops are facilitated by one of CMHA’s mental health professionals using real-life examples from agriculture.
• Next online sessions: Monday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In a crisis:
• Text 686868 — crisis responders are available 24/7 to quickly assist via text without a wait time
• Call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free anytime or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and midnight.
• Your local hospital emergency room, which will have a mental crisis team for urgent cases.
• Coming November 2023: 9-8-8 service. Similar to 9-1-1 but for individuals needing immediate help with a mental health crisis.