Media Release: Empowering Farmers: Introducing Innovative Mental Health Initiative AgLife and Expanded Counselling Services


Empowering Farmers: Introducing Innovative Mental Health Initiative AgLife and Expanded Counselling Services

Langley, BC / April 18, 2024 – The agricultural sector in British Columbia faces unique challenges, ranging from isolation to financial pressures, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced mental health support. AgSafe and CMHA BC are pleased to announce the official launch of AgLife (, a suicide prevention and mental health awareness initiative that will offer the agriculture sector access to resources, information, training and education, and supports navigating mental health challenges. This initiative is part of the Agriculture and Food Workforce Development Initiative that the Government of Canada, Province of BC, and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC announced in June 2023. In addition, the Province of BC has allocated additional funding for the expansion of counselling services offered through AgSafe.

Pam Alexis, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Food, emphasized the significance of this initiative: “Being a farmer can be both rewarding and challenging, and producers need to know we are here to help them when times are tough. AgSafe BC’s staff and resources offer understanding and support from people who know both the pressures of farming and how important it is to look after our own wellbeing first.”

The launch of AgLife and the AgLife Connector program marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards improved mental well-being in agriculture. Some key initiatives and resources available through AgLife’s digital platform include:

  • The AgLife Connector Program: Building a Peer Network: AgLife will train a network of agricultural community service providers, known as AgLife Connectors, to identify signs of distress or suicide among farmers. These Connectors, deeply embedded within farming communities, will facilitate timely referrals to support services, strengthening local networks of aid.
  • Ongoing Counselling: AgSafe will continue offering personalized one-on-one counseling services. These sessions, available in-person, virtually, or over the phone, ensure that agricultural producers, workers, and their families receive tailored support whenever required. In the 12-month period April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024, 127 individuals have accessed the counselling services.
  • Online Training Modules: In collaboration with CMHA BC and other community partners, AgLife will develop and provide online training modules tailored to equip farmers with practical tools to manage their mental well-being effectively, addressing the unique challenges they face.

“By attending a free AgLife Connector training, participants will gain invaluable information about suicide prevention and mental health awareness specific to agriculture,” says Matt Treble, Manager, Suicide Prevention & Life Promotion “This training teaches valuable skills, including an easy 3-step model, that participants can use to help support fellow members of BC's agricultural industry.”

AgSafe and CMHA BC are excited to share AgLife with the BC agriculture sector. This initiative represents a pivotal step forward in expanding mental wellness services. AgLife embodies our collective commitment to supporting the mental health of farmers across British Columbia

“We are excited to add AgLife Connectors to our AgSafe ecosystem of supports. These connectors are poised to play a pivotal role in establishing a robust support system for farmers.” says Wendy Bennett, Executive Director of AgSafe BC. “Through astute observation, effective communication, and genuine care, these connectors will serve as a lifeline for individuals grappling with mental health challenges within the agricultural realm.”

Facts and Findings:

Farmers in Canada score higher levels of burnout than farmers in other countries.1 Farmers are disproportionately impacted by suicide, so evidence-based mental health programming that meets the unique needs of agricultural producers is critical.2 Mental health literacy programs for farmers and those who work closely with them not only improve attitudes towards those struggling with their mental health but also increase helping behaviours.3 In 2021, BC’s provincial Mental Health Support Line reported a 15 to 20 percent increase in calls since the catastrophic Sumas prairie floods in November and a manager with the service said hard-hit farmers were making up the bulk of those new calls.

  • If you or someone you know is in crisis and/or is having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24-7 in BC at 1(800) SUICIDE (call) or nationally at 988 (call and text)
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate physical danger or needs urgent medical attention, call 9-1-1.
  • Mental health support and resource information is available 24/7 in B.C. at 310-6789 (no area code needed).


Matt Treble (CMHA BC), Maria Weaver (CMHA BC), Karl Meier (U & D Meier Dairy), Wendy Bennett (AgSafe BC), Honourable Pam Alexis (B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Food), Rudi Meier (U & D Meier Dairy )
Left to Right

About AgLife:

Developed in collaboration and as a partnership between AgSafe and the Canadian Mental Health Association of BC (CMHA BC), AgLife is a suicide prevention and mental health awareness initiative to improve agricultural mental well-being in British Columbia. The AgLife initiative includes training an organized network of volunteers to prevent suicide, providing agriculture-specific training to distress line operators, enhancing mental health resilience resources, and facilitating access to agriculturally aware counselors for BC farmers and ranchers.

About AgSafe:

AgSafe is the non-profit health and safety association for agricultural producers in British Columbia, providing site-specific consultation and on-site safety education, as well as online workplace safety resources and materials. AgSafe is also the COR Certifying Partner for B.C.’s agricultural and associated industries and offers a Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for large and small employers. For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture-related workplace health and safety visit

About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA BC):

CMHA is Canada’s most established mental health charity and the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health. CMHA, BC Division, together with a network of local CMHA branches, provides services and resources related to mental health, substance use and addictive behaviour in locations across the province. Resources are available on numerous topic areas such as child, youth, parenting, workplace, alcohol and other drugs, finding help, and improving mental wellness. Visit

Media Contacts:

Canadian Mental Health Association

BC DivisionEmail


  1. Jones-Bitton A, Hagen B, Fleming SJ, Hoy S. Farmer Burnout in Canada. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 12;16(24):5074. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16245074. PMID: 31842330; PMCID: PMC6950665.
  3. Purc-Stephenson R, Doctor J, Keehn JE. Understanding the factors contributing to farmer suicide: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research. Rural Remote Health. 2023 Aug;23(3):8189. doi: 10.22605/RRH8189. Epub 2023 Aug 26. PMID: 37633833.