Kim Keller speaks to the crowd at Ag Days in Brandon.

Folks from across Canada and the U.S. who were at Ag Days in Brandon recently had an opportunity to listen to a variety of different speakers and Redfern Farm Services made sure to take in and listen to a few of them!

One of those speakers was Kim Keller, a farmer and co-founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation which is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on creating awareness about mental health in agriculture.

Keller began her speech by asking three questions to the crowd.

“Have you ever lost a family member, a friend or community member to suicide?” she first asked.

She followed with, “Do you or anyone you know live with mental health issues or mental illness?”

Her third and final question: “Have you or anyone you know really needed to talk to someone but had no idea where to go or was afraid of the stigma attached to talking about mental health?”

After receiving nods from the crowd, Keller says it’s crucial to keep the conversation going about mental health in agriculture.

“It’s why it’s even more important that we’re all here today to talk about it,” she added.

Keller talked about a new study from the University of Guelph that focused on mental health upkeep with farmers. The study, conducted by Prof. Andria Jones-Bitton, a professor in the Department of Population Medicine, analyzed more than 1,000 responses nationwide from September 2015 to January of 2016.

The study shows that 45 per cent of respondents had high stress, while another 58 per cent were classified with varying levels of anxiety. Meanwhile, 40 per cent of respondents said they’d feel uneasy getting professional help – mainly because they’d worry about what others might think.

“They’re afraid of the repercussion due to the stigma that exists around talking about mental health and mental illness,” Keller said.

Keller, from Melfort, Sask., also talked about a social media post that opened a floodgate and started a much-needed conversation around mental health. After receiving a message that alarmed her, she ended up sending out a Tweet on her own account and it resulted in an outpouring of support.

“What followed that Tweet was a series of events that I didn’t expect or was even prepared for,” she told the crowd. “From the outpouring of support from farmers in the industry to the mainstream media covering mental health in agriculture.”

She says within a week, it was covered by news outlets such as CBC and that corporate ag industries also took notice as well.

The conversation around mental health continues today, she says. Keller’s Do More Agriculture Foundation focuses on breaking down the stigma that currently exists while building a community of support and resources for those impacted and affected. The Do More Ag Foundation official website states all funds raised go towards educating the ag industry on mental health, breaking the stigma that currently exists and providing access to resources when needed.

For more on the Do More Agriculture Foundation, go to www.domore.ag.

Redferns provides the widest industry selection of seed, fertilizers and crop protection products to customers from our locations, as well as a diverse selection of other goods and services. Custom application services, into field product deliveries, fertilizer application equipment rentals, along with comprehensive soil testing programs, agronomy support and product recommendations are all provided by our professionals.