A new study from the Do More Agriculture Foundation (Do More Ag) evaluated the organization’s work so far and recommended its next steps, according to a release. The study titled “Measuring Impact and Future Action” was led by Wilton Consulting Group (WCG) and Openly.
“The Do More Ag initiatives are essential to open dialogue and eliminate the stigma around mental health in the agricultural sector,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s minister of agriculture and agri-food. “The expertise they have developed over the years now enables them to look at diversity in the sector, provide a more adapted response and find tailored solutions to each individual’s unique reality.”
Agri-Diversity Program sent funding to Do More Ag in 2021 to help with studies to understand mental health awareness, education, and resources in the Canadian agricultural sector. Through this funding Do More Ag was able to complete the study which paved a path forward to help groups who are underrepresented in the Canadian agricultural sector.
“We are thankful for all the insights people involved in the Canadian agricultural industry shared over the course of the research,” said Bronwynne Wilton, the principal and lead consultant at WCG. “These insights highlighted some of the strengths in this field, such as the increased conversations and awareness about mental health. The discussions also clearly identified areas where more work needs to be done, such as embracing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), so that people feel safe and welcome in our industry.”
“We are immensely proud to have contributed to reducing the stigma of mental health and to have helped pave the way for conversation and tangible action in agriculture,” said Lauren Martin, Do More Ag board chair. “As our organization has evolved along with the conversation around mental health, it was time for us to reflect on next steps.”
There were several recommendations outlined through the research study. Some focuses included expanding Do More Ag’s reach nationwide as well as diversifying its outreach offerings.
Do More Ag is also looking to strengthening existing partnerships and host dialogs with partners regularly. The organization looks to serve as a connection between individuals, companies and organizations in the agricultural sector that support mental health. Through this connection, Do More Ag hopes to continue to share research, resources, programs and services throughout the agricultural community.
Future efforts will also include expanding research to find the roots of mental health stressors as well as sharing the knowledge among everyone. Do More Ag will also continue to increase understanding of mental health in the community through various programs like AgCulture.
“Last year the foundation’s focus was on listening and learning; this not only involved our work with the Wilton Group and Openly, but it also took me across Canada speaking with farmers, industry reps, organizations, researchers and elected officials,” said Do More Ag Executive Director Megz Reynolds. “I am so thankful to everyone who participated in our research project and took the time to engage and share. One of the most common asks throughout the past year has been for peer-to-peer support, we are excited to share that we have been working on that, and we have launched AgTalk as a result.”
AgTalk offers 24/7 bilingual clinical moderation, powered by Togetherall, which “ensures a secure environment for open discussions on mental health,” according to the release.
“Once again, thank you to the Agri-Diversity Program and to everyone who participated through interviews, the survey, focus groups and our advisory team,” added Megz Reynolds.
Do More Ag will continue to connect the resources that are offered with those members of the Canadian agricultural community that need mental health support.
“As the Farmer Mental Health Expert Advisor for this project, I was privileged to be among many collaborators who contributed their industry knowledge, personal experiences and vision for the future of mental health in Canadian agriculture,” said Bonnie Taylor, a social worker. “The open discussions reinforced the urgency of addressing and supporting the mental health and wellness needs for all members of the agricultural industry, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups. I look forward to witnessing the positive outcomes for the mental health and wellness of everyone in the agricultural industry once these recommendations are implemented.”
The final report can be reviewed here.