Social media campaign invites farmers to share their mental health journey

According to research out of the University of Guelph, Canadian farmers are more susceptible to mental health issues like anxiety and depression compared to other segments of the population.

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CMHA is in the early stages of developing a social media package that aims to raise awareness of mental health resources for the agriculture industry and is looking for help from you.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is looking for individuals to share their stories of recovery, to participate in the campaign.

Recently the National Farmers Union-Ontario approached its members to help out.

“Mental health in the agriculture industry has been a prevalent topic of late. Rates of stress, mental health issues and suicide are much higher amongst this group as compared to the general population,” NFU-O explained in a note from Communications coordinator Justin Dickie.

CMHA plans to dedicate a section on its website, which will provide “a comprehensive list of programs and resources farmers can use to get the support they may need. In short order, we plan to start promoting this webpage via our social channels, email newsletter and potentially through traditional media. We’re also reaching out to potential partners in the agriculture industry to get their support in sharing this campaign through their channels,” Dickie said.

The campaign will include visual elements, such as quotes on mental health and photography in graphics on social media, as well as potential participation in traditional media interviews, he said.

“As a key component of this initiative, we’re looking for individual producers who have sought help for their mental health, are willing to be open about it, and may be interested in being among the faces of this campaign,” he said.

Dickie told Ontario Farmer CMHA is working to “identify which resources to promote in this package.”

“Annually, CMHA Ontario produces about 40 of these social media campaigns often targeted to specific demographics (e.g. first responders, youth, etc.) for use by our 30 branches and partners province-wide.”

According to Dickie, the campaign will be added to CMHA’s existing roster of awareness initiatives in an effort to reach individuals who are struggling.

So CMHA is hoping individuals will step forward “who may be willing to share their stories of recovery and may be open to being among the faces of this social media campaign.

“Often, when individuals living with mental health challenges receive messages of hope from peers, it can embolden them to seek help themselves,” he said.

Dickie added that an October launch would be ideal “as it marks a lull/end of growing season for many producers, at which time stress levels may be particularly high in light of any unexpected negative outcomes from the season that has just passed.”

If you’re interested in knowing more or helping out, he welcomes emails. Contact Justin Dickie at jdickie@ontario.cmha.ca.

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