Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Residents in rural and agricultural communities have some of the highest levels of mental health challenges and suicide rates per capita of all sectors of society. Stigma about mental health issues is also a fundamental problem, exacerbated by limited resources and access to professional help.

Agriculture is vital to the survival of everyone. Farm income is affected by factors such as weather, crop failure and commodity prices. This places immense stress on farmers and rural communities.

Growing up on a farm was a cherished part of my childhood. We had a full-scale working farm, although my family’s livelihood didn’t depend on the harvest. I did, however, witness the difficulties that full-time farmers faced. The problem is that nobody talked about the mental toll that it took on producers and their families. Farmers spend so much time dealing with the challenges of their job that it becomes second nature to push aside their emotional needs. They don’t get the help they require and often suffer in silence.

Accepting that I suffered from mental health challenges was one of the toughest decisions of my life. I have dealt with depression and anxiety. I stigmatized myself, resisted taking medication and failed to seek support from others. Finally, I realized that asking for help and taking the steps to get better actually made me stronger. As a result, one of my life’s purposes is to open up the conversation around mental health and stigma.

In 2016, I co-founded the Stigma-Free Society with our president, Andrea Paquette. The Society is a Canadian charity that is committed to combating stigma of all kinds, with a focus on mental health. The Society’s mission is to create awareness of the impact of stigmas that exist in the world and foster an understanding of the negative mental health consequences. We encourage everyone to accept themselves and cultivate empathy for others.

Our latest project is the Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit. This comprehensive website is the Society’s response to the mental health crisis in rural and agricultural communities across Canada and globally. The toolkit provides tailored resources focused on the rural audience, including specific resources for youth, families and seniors.

The Inspiring Stories section of the toolkit showcases videos of rural residents and farmers, who open up the conversation around mental health and stigma. A Peer Support Facilitator Training Program will be offered soon for people living in rural and agricultural communities who can then create their own peer support groups.

Farmers and rural communities need and deserve mental health support and resources. Please remember, you are not alone. We are here to help.

For more information, visit

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

Interact with The Globe