'Don't be too proud to look for help': Sask. farmers under stress over possibility of losing crops

Some farmers in Saskatchewan are in jeopardy of losing their crops due to record-breaking dryness in parts of southern Saskatchewan, or too much rain in northern parts of the province, which experts say can cause a lot of stress.

Losing crops can cause stress, depression and other mental health issues, according to experts

Farmers in Saskatchewan are at risk of losing a significant amount of crops due to the weather. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

As extreme weather conditions in parts of Saskatchewan cause problems for farmers, they're being encouraged to seek help for mental health issues.

Parts of southern Saskatchewan are experiencing the driest July on record, whereas places in central and northern Saskatchewan are getting drenched. Many crops are either withering or drowning. 

Norm Hall, vice-president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, says a bad crop can leave farmers with a heavy burden to bear.

"There will be financial implications because this puts guys into crop insurance claim positions — if they are carrying crop insurance — and that's just no way to be making a living," said Hall.

"Producers would prefer making a living out of their bins as opposed to off the insurance cheque."

Hall said financial challenges can lead to mental challenges.

"It's a tremendous toll because you're out there to make a living for your family, and when you can't provide for your family because of financial implications, it can take a real toll mentally."

Hall recommends farmers access help for mental health.

"Don't be too proud to look for help," he said. 

Hundreds of calls to Farm Stress Line

One of the outlets Hall recommends is the Farm Stress Line. 

The Farm Stress Line was established by the Ministry of Agriculture and provides crisis counselling for farmers if they're experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts or other stress-related symptoms. 

In 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture partnered with Mobile Crisis Services to ensure the Farm Stress Line was available to rural Saskatchewan and farm families 24 hours a day.

John McFadyen, executive director of Mobile Crisis Services, said the Farm Stress Line has received about 500 calls in the past couple of years and the number one issue is mental health.

"Most farm operations now are a million dollars and up, so there's a lot of stress managing all the aspects of a big business, and those stresses then sometimes transfer onto the families," said McFadyen.

McFadyen said one of the benefits of the Farm Stress Line is that it allows farmers to get help regardless of where they're located. 

"Resources are sometimes difficult to get to and not always in their local communities, so they have to travel," said McFadyen. "The ability to be able to call and talk with someone and get some direction on the crisis they're experiencing is very helpful."

The Farm Stress Line can be reached at 1-800-667-4442.

Mobile Crisis Services is located in Regina and offers crisis counselling for depression, suicide, addiction and other challenges.