'It's okay to have problems': Emo, Ont. farmer talks about mental health support for farmers

Cattle farmer Kim Jo Bliss knows all too well about the hard, yet rewarding, life of being in agriculture in northwestern Ontario. Which is why this week, as part of the Spring Farm Conference, Bliss is in Thunder Bay, Ont. speaking to other farmers about the importance of mental health.

Kim Jo Bliss is advocating for farmers to take care of their mental health

Kim Jo Bliss operates a farm in Emo, and says farmers need to be aware of their mental health by seeking a health care professional or finding a friend to vent to. (Kim Jo Bliss)

There's no question that the culture around farming is about being tough and determined. 

Cattle farmer Kim Jo Bliss knows all too well about the hard, yet rewarding, life of being in agriculture in northwestern Ontario. 

Which is why this week, as part of the Spring Farm Conference, Bliss is in Thunder Bay, Ont. speaking to other farmers about the importance of mental health.

Kim Jo Bliss is a cattle farmer in Emo. And she's passionate about getting farmers talking about, and taking care of their own mental health. 7:26

"I think that as a farmer we deal with things everyday that maybe looks great on the outside, but it's not always like that," Bliss explained on the CBC's Superior Morning on Thursday, "and I think we forget to talk about our problems."

She said while the farming life is a life she loves, there are many factors that are not within a farmer's control such as grain prices, sick animals and even mother nature.

Bliss, who runs a beef operation near Emo, Ont., says she hopes she can show other farmers that it's okay to talk about your problems. (Kim Jo Bliss )

"It's usually very quiet [and] those are some of the perks as well, but not so if you are feeling down," Bliss said. "The weather is something that bothers us everyday and then you'll throw another loop in there ... some days you just are tired and don't want to get out of bed."

From the stresses of family and succession planning to the stresses of monthly payments and bills, Bliss said on top of dealing with the daily chores, people in agriculture need to "find someone [they] can vent to."

"Tiredness, the lack of sleep, staying back [and] not participating or maybe not going to the events you use to," Bliss said. "You become miserable... and when those days get more frequent, it's time to seek help."

She said a farm help line is available for those in agriculture, but there are also health care professionals that can offer advice and suggestions on how to keep your mental health, healthy.

Bliss said she hopes if people hear her talk about the issue, then they might also realize it's okay to open up.

Staying mentally healthy, she said, is about "finding that right person that wants to listen to you."