Do More Ag releases next steps towards better mental health in ag
July 12, 2023 By Do More Agriculture
The Do More Agriculture Foundation (Do More Ag) has released the findings of their recently concluded research project, “Measuring Impact and Future Action,” and announced a strategic direction for the foundation.
In 2021, Do More Ag received funding from the Agri-Diversity Program to better understand the state of mental health awareness, educational offerings and resource delivery in the Canadian agricultural industry.
According to Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, “The Do More Ag initiatives are essential to open dialogue and eliminate the stigma around mental health in the agricultural sector. The expertise they have developed over the years now enables them to look at diversity in the sector, provide a more adapted response and find tailored solutions to each individual’s unique reality.”
Led by Wilton Consulting Group (WCG) and Openly, this project has evaluated Do More Ag’s overall contribution and impact, presented recommendations for the next steps, and identified a critical path forward, all with the important lens of serving traditionally underrepresented groups in the Canadian agricultural sector.
“We are thankful for all the insights people involved in the Canadian agricultural industry shared over the course of the research,” says Bronwynne Wilton, the principal and lead consultant at WCG. “These insights highlighted some of the strengths in this field, such as the increased conversations and awareness about mental health. The discussions also clearly identified areas where more work needs to be done, such as embracing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, so that people feel safe and welcome in our industry.”
“We are immensely proud to have contributed to reducing the stigma of mental health and to have helped pave the way for conversation and tangible action in agriculture,” says Do More Ag board chair Lauren Martin, “As our organization has evolved along with the conversation around mental health, it was time for us to reflect on next steps.”
Among the many recommendations identified by the recently concluded research project, Do More Ag will continue to champion a healthy culture in agriculture by focusing on the following:
- Expanding its reach across the nation and across commodities and incorporating diversity in its outreach. i.e. the language of service offerings;
- Serving as an activator and connector among the diversity of individuals, companies and organizations supporting mental health in the agricultural sector;
- Strengthening existing partnerships to better leverage unique skill sets by hosting regular partner dialogues;
- Pushing research, resources, programs and services out to the agricultural community;
- Continuing to explore the root causes of mental health stressors and facilitate knowledge transfer between trusted advisors, farmers, their families and elected officials; and
- Continuing to enhance the mental health community’s understanding of agriculture through programs like AgCulture.
“Last year the foundation’s focus was on listening and learning. This not only involved our work with the Wilton Group and Openly, but it also took me across Canada speaking with farmers, industry reps, organizations, researchers and elected officials,” says Megz Reynolds, Do More Ag executive director. “I am so thankful to everyone who participated in our research project and took the time to engage and share.
“One of the most common asks throughout the past year has been for peer-to-peer support. We are excited to share that we have been working on that, and we have launched AgTalk as a result.”
With 24/7 bilingual clinical moderation, AgTalk, powered by Togetherall, ensures a secure environment for open discussions on mental health.
Overall, Do More Ag will continue to fill the gap and be a connector between the resources that exist (and those that are being developed at an exciting new pace) and those in the Canadian agricultural community that are in need of support.
“As the Farmer Mental Health Expert Advisor for this project, I was privileged to be among many collaborators who contributed their industry knowledge, personal experiences and vision for the future of mental health in Canadian agriculture,” says Bonnie Taylor, MSW, RSW. “The open discussions reinforced the urgency of addressing and supporting the mental health and wellness needs for all members of the agricultural industry, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups.
“I look forward to witnessing the positive outcomes for the mental health and wellness of everyone in the agricultural industry once these recommendations are implemented.”
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