The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) held their annual conference in beautiful Quebec City from October 8 to 10, 2019. Although I made the 10-hour drive to the conference, my stress level was significantly low while taking in all of the gorgeous fall color and beautiful scenery. While at the conference not only did I meet up with a familiar network of colleagues that I met at the International Society of Agriculture Safety and Health (ISASH) Conference held in June, but I picked up some very astounding information and resources in relation to mental health.
One of the sessions that really caught my attention was “Burnout in Canadian Farms” by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton from the University of Guelph. A survey was conducted amongst 75 Canadian farmers and questions were asked to rate their levels of emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and low professional efficacy. More than half of the farmers surveyed were in the burnout transition or burnout profile based on a scale of engaged, ineffective, disengaged, overextended, and burnout. Risk factors leading to this result were poor self-rated overall health, previous mental stress, financial stress, dissatisfaction with supports such as spouse, friends and the industry, being single, age, and gender
What does this all mean? It means being in the state of burnout can affect your physical health making you susceptible to chronic disease; affect your mental health causing depression and possible insomnia; and behavior and attitude changes such as decreased job satisfaction. At the end of the survey, it was found that it may not be possible to decrease your work load or demands on the farm but increasing your social support could lessen the affects of these demands.
Reach out for help using resources such as the Farm Family Support Center (workhealthlife.com or 1-844-880-9142) or the Mental Health Crisis Hotline (1-888-429-8167 or 1-902-429-8167).
Resources may be helpful in prioritizing and organizing your demands. If you are familiar with YouTube or know someone who is, take a look at this episode of Impact Farming, with Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton. She shares many of the factors that contribute to a sense of overwhelming helplessness and burnout in farmers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGJRlpaLQJg). This is one episode you don’t want to miss, there is so much valuable information here.