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Mental health hotline for farmers is now live

New telehealth service is available 24 hours a day throughout the year

A phone line to help farmers with their mental wellness is now operational.

Accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, in English and French, farmers can call 1-866-267-6255 to speak to a counsellor.

Upon calling, farmers will enter an intake process to arrange counselling sessions with mental health professionals who have received special training to understand the unique needs of Ontario farmers.

Farmers can access up to four free counselling sessions annually.

Jointly funded by the provincial and federal governments through the Farmer Wellness Initiative, the hotline was developed and launched by the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and is provided by LifeWorks.

“Providing farm families across the province with free counselling services and helping connect at-risk farmers with tailored support and resources is a greatly welcomed service in rural Ontario,” Peggy Brekveld, the OFA’s president, said in a news release.

“Availability of mental health services has been a big roadblock standing between farmers and their mental wellness. The telephone line is a first step in a process that will add more access points over the coming weeks and months for Ontario farmers and their families to take positive action to support their mental health.”

In the coming days, the OFA said, the program will release an accompanying website and smartphone app that will have thousands of self-guided support resources.