Farming and ranching is known to be one of the most dangerous occupations there is, while it can be very rewarding it can also be highly stressful.

Some studies have shown that farmers and ranchers are at a higher risk of anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

Producers often face challenges that are out of their control from the weather and markets, to pests and disease, and high-input costs.

Saskatchewan's new Farming and Ranching Mental Health (FARMh) Initiative is working to identify mental health supports and needs in the agriculture sector.

The new research project is funded by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan Center for Patient Oriented Research and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.

Michelle Pavloff, Sask Polytech's Research Chair for Rural Health says the first step is data collection through a confidential research study.

"What we are hoping to do is determine what Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers and their families require for mental health support. We also want to better understand what farm culture looks like and how we can implement that into mental health supports."

Pavloff says they are currently looking for producers to volunteer for the study which involves a 30 to 60 minute phone interview.

This information will be used to develop a farm-culture friendly mental health program in phase two of the FARMh initiative.

Saskatchewan's Farming and Ranching Mental Health Initiative got a welcome boost recently with a $26,800 donation from Red Rock Land & Cattle at Eastend.

 red rock cattle donation heifer.jpg

Will Banfrd says he heard about the FARMh study from a friend and decided that was a perfect fit.  

"I got a phone call from Dad, and he said he had a heifer he wanted to donate. She was kind of special to him, in the sense that she was really quiet, and she always put a smile on his face when he seen her kind of thing. There's been a lot of impact I guess going around about COVID nowadays, and you know mental health along with that. He kind of directed me in that way that he wanted it to go into mental health, but then left it up to me on where we wanted to donate it from there."

Banford says they had great support from producers during a fundraising auction at Heartland Livestock in early December,

Pavloff says they are thankful for the support and what it will mean for them, adding they are passionate about improving mental health for those in the agricultural industry.

"Everyone on the FARMh research team comes from a rural or agricultural background. We are excited to create a program to help farmers and ranchers receive the right resources at the right time to support their mental health."

To participate in the study, farmers and/or ranchers must be over 18 and live in Saskatchewan, own or lease and be working on their farm or ranch.

More information on Saskatchewan's Farmer and Rancher Mental Health Initiative is available here.

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