GUELPH — A toll-free hotline providing mental support for Ontario farmers and farm families was up and running as of New Years’ Day.
At 1-866-267-6255, the phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. Callers can access up to four free hour-long counselling sessions per year, funded by both the federal and provincial governments through the Farmer Wellness Initiative.
The support line’s psychotherapists have received training pertaining to farmer-specific needs and are prepared to address different challenges farmers face.
Services are available in English and French. Callers have the option of choosing “immediate attention” or “support and services.” Counselling sessions can be arranged by phone, virtually, or in-person depending on public health restrictions. Callers can get same-day single session support or book ongoing support within five business days.
“I’ve heard nothing but good feedback from my fellow farmers and colleagues. They’ve said this is a weakness in regards to mental health support and they’re appreciative of it being recognized as an area of focus,” said OFA director Jackie Kelly-Pemberton, who helped launch the hotline.
A website and app with self-guided farmer mental health support resources will follow. All information disclosed during counselling sessions is confidential.
The project was developed and launched by the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario division in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture