The issue of mental health in the agriculture industry can sometimes fall between the cracks, but the Do More Agriculture Foundation is aiming to fill that gap.
Executive Director of Do More Ag Megz Reynolds unveiled the Ag Talk peer-to-peer platform at Canada’s Farm Show.
She says it’s available to anyone in the Canadian ag industry 24/7, and is available in English and French. The website is monitored by mental health clinicians. Individuals need to be at least 16-years-old and older to sign up.
“We’re all at different places in our mental-health journeys and having that professional there to help guide people as they’re progressing and sharing was important for us.” Reynolds said.
The website, she explained, looks similar to a Facebook timeline, where a user can see posts from other people, connect with individuals who are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings, as well as access a range of tools and services.
“It is a place for not just to go if you’re needing support, what we’re really pushing is that agriculture is amazing at coming together and creating community,” she adds.
“If you’re in a place where you can give back and join to be a support person, that’s a really powerful way to help everyone in the industry, or maybe you’re not ready to share yet but just signing up and being able to read posts can really help when you’re struggling to know you’re not alone.”
The biggest feature of Ag Talk is its anonymity. Reynolds says at the back-end of the website, the user would put in information which the mental health clinicians can access if they feel that someone is at-risk; on the front-end however, the user can pick an anonymous name and photo.
“Then there’s data software that’s running behind the scenes so that if you try to share personal information that’s taken out, if you use the word ‘life’ that flags to make sure that post is safe and then clinicians will interact.” she continued.
Reynolds noted a couple minutes after launch there were 5 people already signed up, but the focus right now is on getting the message out across Canada through all of their networks.
She says the Ag Talk platform is the latest tool in helping breaking down barriers of mental health in the ag industry.
“We’re not at a good place in agriculture with mental health, we have about 1 in 4 Canadian producers in 2021 feeling like their life was not worth living,” she said. “for me having something like this I feel is such an important tool to support people where they’re at and help them progress and get them support and really just work towards changing the culture of agriculture.”
You can access the website by clicking here.