--- Outaouais agriculture workers to receive extra mental health support
Two bilingual psychosocial workers have been stationed in the Outaouais region to offer mental health support to agriculture workers, according to Écoute Agricole, a non-profit that offers support services to front line workers in the sector.
Arianne Dulac, a clinical nurse that specializes in mental health from the Gatineau Hospital, and Mathieu Brûlé, a former construction worker turned social worker, will be made available to farmers in the region who are dealing with increased mental health stress this year.
The funding to support his initiative was made possible thanks to funds provided by the Fonds québécois d'initiatives sociales, in collaboration with the Quebec Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity and other financial partners such as Desjardins bank, Banque Nationale and MRC Pontiac.
The project is in response to farmers particular vulnerability to mental health issues and stress, as highlighted in a report issued by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in 2019. The report cited a 2011 study conducted by Université du Québec à Montréal, where PhD community psychology candidate Ginette Lafleur found that 42 per cent of Quebec farmers felt their days were somewhat or extremely stressful, compared with just 20 per cent of Quebec men.
Écoute Agricole says the reasons a farmer may seek psychological help varies from financial stress, addictions, suicidal thoughts or communication problems. The non-profit says that several Outaouais farmers have taken their lives since 2019, according to their released statement. Thanks to drought and heatwaves in 2020, in addition to the added economic stress of the pandemic, Écoute Agricole has seen an increase in requests for psychological support in the last year.
Male farmers worldwide are at much higher risk of committing suicide, according to Lafleur. Brûlé has a specialty in helping men who find themselves in difficult situations.
"We are very happy to present our two new front-line workers who will help the farmers of the Outaouais,” said Normand Bourgon, president of Écoute Agricole. “We would like to thank all the partners who supported the project, as well as those who made a financial contribution.”
Bourgon stated that Brûlé and Dulac are already responding to requests for assistance.