Page 26 - BCHNews-Spring2021-Web
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For Everybody's Benefit
  Over the past five years agriculture has seen an above average injury rate in comparison to other sectors in BC. However, in 2019 the agriculture injury rate dropped from 2.7 to 2.3, the biggest drop and the lowest rate in five years, while all industry remained at 2.2. This is good news and shows that BC’s farmers
Wendy Bennett, AgSafe
Wendy Bennett is AgSafe’s Executive Director and a former Chair and active member of the CASA Board of Directors. Wendy is also an active Director on the International Society for Agriculture Safety & Health (ISASH) Board and involved with several provincial and national health and safety advisory committees and working groups.
Mental Health in Agriculture
are working diligently to keep themselves, their workers and their families safe and healthy.
Farming is hard work. It’s hard on the body and on the mind. There is a growing concern about the mental well-being of many who work in agriculture in British Columbia, and across Canada.
 It’s no secret this is a hot topic. Organizations across the country are reaching out virtually to farmers with encouraging words offering support wherever possible.
Attention to mental health is part of many agricultural organizations’ work plan as more recognize that it is a significant issue among farmers. While things are improving, the stigma is real, and farmers facing mental health issues are often hesitant to reach out for needed support because they believe it shows weakness and they should be able to ‘tough it out.’ This could not be further from the truth – reaching out is a sign of strength – but many farmers don’t see it this way and suffer in silence.
Through collaboration with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA), many provincial organizations have had the opportunity to learn about “In the Know,” a mental health awareness and
education program designed specifically for agriculture. Developed by Dr. Brianna Hagen and Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton with the University of Guelph as a result of research conducted over several years, In the Know addresses real concerns farmers are facing. CASA brought provincial partners together, including AgSafe in BC, to learn about the research and the resulting program.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) in Manitoba and Farm Safety Nova Scotia (FSNS) were among the first to launch the program after Ontario coordinated a train-the-trainer program for In the Know to be delivered to agriculture producers.
Through CASA, these two organizations arranged sessions to provide guidance and support to partners across Canada to implement In the Know in as many provinces as possible. Partnership agreements with the University of Guelph are available in the interest of delivering this program to any individual interested in participating.
In the Know is free of charge to producers in agriculture. The program looks at stress, depression, anxiety, and how to start a conversation around mental health. The program takes only a few hours to complete and the resulting information is invaluable. Led by a mental health professional with a background in agriculture, the content is important and relevant. Real life examples demonstrate the facilitator’s ability to truly understand the challenges faced by producers that may lead to mental health concerns.
AgSafe has signed a partnership agreement with the University of Guelph and is actively working with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in BC to arrange for facilitators to participate in a train the trainer program.
The goal is to offer In the Know to agriculture producers in British Columbia as part of a sustainable Mental Health Support Network. In the Know is a key component of this network – the remainder of which will be dictated by the results of the survey being distributed in the spring asking producers what they would like to see available to support them when and where they need it.
AgSafe is the provincial health and safety association for BC agricultural producers. Our team and our work benefit from our strong provincial, national and international partnerships and connections with other organizations working to keep our agricultural community safe and healthy.
In the Know Partners:
Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) is a national non-profit organization promoting farm safety. CASA works with partners in government, business and farming organizations across the country to support initiatives that help make farms a safe place to live, work and play.
University of Guelph piloted the In the Know program developed by Dr. Briana Hagen and Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton of the UofG OntarioVeterinaryCollegetobetterinform farmersonmentalhealth,howtocopewith the stresses of running a farm in a healthy way, and how to start safe mental health conversations.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is Manitoba’s general farm policy organization, providing a unified voice for farmers on issues that affect agriculture. KAP works with governments, industry and stakeholders and acts as spokesperson for Manitoba’s farmers, engaging media and other stakeholders to promote agriculture and its contributions to the Manitoba and Canadian economies.
FarmSafetyNovaScotia(FSNS)workswith Nova Scotia farms to keep farmers, their families, and their employees safe. Their goal is to ensure farmers have access to the tools and resources they need to operate safe and productive farms.
     New Workers
Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers. Educate new and young workers to identify hazards and minimize risks.

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