SASKATOON -- It has not been a good growing season for farmers across Saskatchewan.
After a mixed bag of wet and dry conditions, farmers are making use of an array of mental health services available to deal with the associated stress that comes with the job.
Saskatchewan, like many provinces, has a 24 hour farm stress line to help farmers deal with stress and anxiety.
In the spring, the line saw 199 calls, compared to 106 for spring 2018.
The number of calls has increased to 757 in the 2018-19 fiscal year from 320 in the 2017-18 year.
John McFadyen, executive director of the mobile crisis services and Adelle Stewart of Saskatchewan’s Do More Ag foundation explained how the stigma surrounding mental health initiatives for farmers is crumbling.
“It's the fact that they have a lot of things not under their control,” said McFadyen. “Issues they face with commodity prices, issues they face with the weather, you know those issues around the end of the season, financially where am I going to stand? But I think what it is the reduction and the stigma about reaching out around mental health issues and also the efforts put in to bring about awareness of the farm stress line and services available.”
He expects the number of total calls at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year to increase by 10 to 20 per cent.
Stewart said two things come to her mind.
“One, it doesn’t surprise me, it's been an extremely stressful and two, I'm so very glad because it means that people are using the resources and crisis lines that are available to them and I continue to encourage people to do that so it's kind of a double edged sword, I'm really happy to hear those numbers.”
The Do More Ag foundation acts as a conduit to provide farmers access to the different mental health initiatives available throughout the country. Both McFadyen and Stewart said it's the unpredictability and uncertainty of the job that contributes the most to farmers' stress levels.
As of last week, west-central Saskatchewan saw 46 per cent of the crop completed. The five-year average for this time of year is usually about 70 percent.