From FCC Express, by Owen Roberts
The first research effort designed to measure Canadian farmers’ stress levels and mental resilience is underway.
The University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College launched four simultaneous efforts to help the agricultural sector obtain science-based data about problems such as anxiety and depression facing farmers, veterinarians and veterinary students.
Recruitment for the first initiative, a survey specifically about burnout, depression, anxiety and perceived stress, as well as farmers’ stress and resiliency, began earlier this month at the Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.
This survey will run through the fall. Researchers hope to attract up to 1,000 participants.
Other research involves veterinarian wellness. Preliminary findings related to this study involving over 500 practitioners show roughly one-third of the participants have anxiety, with another third considered borderline. Almost one in 10 were classified as having depression; about three in 20 were in the borderline category.
Other parts of this initiative are designed to promote wellness among veterinary students, so entering the profession, they can recognize danger signs and deal with them before they become problems.
For farmers, the researchers modified Mental Health First Aid Canada’s standard mental health first aid training program, and offered it to veterinarians and agricultural support staff in concert with the Canadian Mental Health Association. This program is designed to be a rural self-help initiative, a first line of action to help people on the farm recognize the likes of depression, excessive stress and anxiety.