AgSafe BC safety advisor Emily Kerr was a featured presenter at Virtual Grower Day, organized by Greenhouse Canada on August 12.
The live annual professional development and networking event had been scheduled to take place in Abbotsford, its first time in BC, but it was moved online in response to COVID-19.
With five months of social restrictions taking its toll on events and social engagement, Kerr’s talk was timely. She discussed mental wellness in agriculture and shared her own experience of losing her father, an antiques dealer, as well as her own challenges following an industrial accident that led to her work in farm safety.
Kerr encouraged producers who are highly independent and always under pressure and stress to monitor themselves and those around them. She believes the labour shortages facing producers and new protocols developed in response to COVID-19 are adding to the usual stresses farmers face.
The impact of these pressures in terms of mental wellness has yet to be fully known, but it’s estimated that Canada’s farm community sees rates of suicide that are 20% to 30% above that of the general population.
Asking for help is often the last resort for farmers and it shouldn’t be, Kerr said.