The Mental Health Association of Canada recently published some tips for psychological health and safety by Dr. Merv Gilbert, a consultant and occupational health psychologist.
10 Tips for Improving Mental Health on the farm:
- Make mental health as much a priority as physical health. Develop a program to include your commitment to mental health as you would for physical health and communicate the program to workers.
- Keep track of the impact mental health has on the farm. Track absenteeism, lost time days due to disability, costs of benefits and evaluate this information for trends.
- Identify the risks that affect mental health on your farm. Mitigate the risk to prevent mental health concerns.
- Identify and control mental health hazards on your farm such as bullying and harassment.
- Provide ample information and resources to help identify problems in the early stages of mental illness. The earlier the intervention, the less likely the mental health distress evolves into a more serious condition or disability.
- Receive training and train others on the farm on how to recognize mental health distress and have the resources available to offer workers the help they may need such as the Farm Family Support Centre (1-844-880-9142.)
- Review your current health and safety program with a focus on mental health. Is there adequate information and resources available?
- Keep workers with mental health issues in the workplace, if possible. The longer workers are absent form work with disability, the harder it is to get them back in the workforce. Keeping workers engaged in the workplace improves mental health as well as there is a vast support system then what may only be available only at home.
- If a worker needs to be away from work, communicate with them on a regular basis, allow them to feel supported. Have a plan in place to allow for the worker to gradually return to work when it is safe to do so
- Once learning of mental health issues in the work place, review the causes for concern and implement controls for prevention. Keep an eye out to ensure reoccurrence of disorders can be either prevented or recognized early in order to implement early intervention.
A mental health program can be as simple as a few resources to give to workers for them to access help and a commitment on paper to show your support. You can build from there.