Recognizing and Handling Stress in Rural Alberta - Frequently Asked Questions

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 There is no question that farming can be a stressful way of life, and drought, financial pressures and industry crises in recent years have only increased the pressures on farm families today.

Agriculture is one of the few industries that does not have a ‘Human Resource’ department to provide support and services to its workers. Farmers may not have the opportunity to work with co-workers and farming communities are becoming less populated, providing fewer opportunities for working together. Off farm jobs may mean that family members may not even work together as much as in the past.

What are some symptoms of stress and depression?

  • Irritability
  • Feeling anxious
  • Lack of concentration
  • Anger or crying outbursts
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Tense muscles
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sleep and appetite problems
What are stress relievers?
  • Exercise / stretching
  • Humour
  • Deep breathing
  • Taking breaks and socializing
  • Meditation
  • Spiritual connectedness
Isolation, the stigma around mental health issues, inaccessibility of resources and confidentiality issues in small communities make getting help a challenge in rural Alberta.

What can I do if I suspect someone I know is experiencing stress and depression?

  • Initiate conversation – “what most people need is good listening to”.
  • Ask questions – if you are concerned, don’t be afraid to ask the person if they need to talk or even, if you suspect, if they are considering suicide. Acknowledge, believe and listen. 80% of people who commit suicide have verbalized it in some way beforehand.
  • Provide options – talking, a help line number, other resources (medical, emotional, spiritual)
  • Be empathetic without being sympathetic – identify with their stress but don’t take it on yourself
  • Be a mentor or connect the sufferer with a mentor – someone with a positive attitude, some experience and an understanding of the industry.
  • Most Alberta communities have Mental Health Centres – look under Mental Health in the phone book.
  • See your medical doctor. Ongoing depression can be treated with medication.
  • Connect with Church, family or community groups you are comfortable with.
  • 877-303-2642 – an anonymous, confidential Help Line in Alberta.

Thanks for information to: Rob Little - Men at Risk Program, and Joanne Archer - Suicide Prevention Services

Prepared by Ag - Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
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This information published to the web on July 21, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2016.