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July 19, 2023
5 mins read
Watch the video to see how Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) is making a difference by empowering the local farming community to tackle feelings of isolation and mental well-being challenges.
Before retiring, Tom, a farm owner in Dublin, Ontario, silently struggled with depression due to the isolating nature of his job. During a particularly stressful harvesting season, he experienced a mental health crisis and urgently sought help. This was the turning point where he started sharing his ongoing struggle, discovering a network of unwavering support, and finding a community of family and friends to uplift him.
"In a certain moment, an individual comes up with a strategy on how to remove all that anguish. And it is this anguish that Gateway CERH is trying to bring out into the open through their S.H.E.D. Talks."
Tom Melady,Retired Farm Owner
Gateway CERH developed S.H.E.D. Talks (Sustaining Healthy Farms Through Empowerment and Dedication) to help combat the loneliness and declining mental health of the farming community in Huron and Perth County. One in four farmers in Ontario will experience a mental health crisis during their career,* and S.H.E.D. Talks is focusing on conversation, collaboration, community and connection to help reduce social isolation and daily stressors. This new peer-run group program will provide safe and welcoming spaces, helping to build farmer-to-farmer connections so farmers like Tom can lean on one another during difficult times.
With assistance from the Energizing Life
Community Fund, the S.H.E.D. Talks program will expand to more agricultural community members, creating a larger mentorship support group for the farmers who play a vital role in providing Ontarians with fresh and nutritious food.
"A farmer’s brain is different than the statistical norm. And this is Gateway CERH’s strategy with S.H.E.D. Talks — to get farmers talking about mental health. And that is what revived me."
Tom Melady,Retired Farm Owner
*Statistic cited by a 2022 survey led by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College.
Gateway CERH: (519) 612-1053
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