Central Alberta News Provincial

Rural mental health event supports agriculture industry

Holger Langmaier photo

By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The Drumheller Mail

DRUMHELLER – Mental health has been a topic on the forefront for many Albertans, especially with the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Rural Mental Health Network is preparing its second event on Feb. 11 which will focus on mental health in the agriculture industry.

 Event speaker Lesley Kelly has been a mental health advocate for the last few years and is the creator behind the blog High Heels & Canola Fields.

 “We didn’t know what kind of response we would get from sharing our story,” Kelly told the Mail.

 Kelly says she was drawn to advocating for mental health after facing her own struggles with postpartum depression following the birth of her second son, and watching those close to her struggle with their own mental health challenges of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In January 2018, Kelly co-founded Do More Agriculture Foundation (Do More Ag), a non-profit organization which focuses on breaking the stigma of mental health in the agriculture industry. While stigma around mental health is easing, Kelly notes those in the agriculture industry may feel isolated in their struggles.

 “We all go through hard times,” she said. “Sharing empathy and kindness goes a long way.”

 Kelly says the Rural Mental Health Network reached out to her and asked her to share her story at their upcoming event. While she is unable to be present in person, Kelly says the virtual event will help increase opportunity and access.

 The event will be held over Zoom and is free to attend, though registration is required.