I recently facilitated a panel discussion that was focused on mental health issues as they relate to agriculture. I was absolutely shocked to see that a huge portion of the 400-plus audience members had been affected by suicide — a topic that, let’s be honest, none of us really want to talk about.
That said, we know that the only way to allow these conversations to not be afraid to share where we are all at in our mental health journey.
There is a lack of understanding about issues related to mental health, and I do not claim to be an expert by any stretch — but I do know that I am now committed to having more conversations. Our panel discussion was heartfelt and had more open sharing than I think most people in the room were really used to, but they were obviously very appreciative. After the discussion was over, we heard story after story from people that I had absolutely no idea were struggling — they talked about feeling lonely and feeling afraid to say anything about it, which breaks my heart.
I want people to know that they are not alone and that there are people in their lives that care, and care deeply. I lost my wife to suicide just over two years ago, and I know the pain that suicide generates. It has taken me two years to find my voice, but I want us to have more conversations, because we are a strong industry and we care for each other. We all want to support our friends and our colleagues.
When I left my panel discussion and walked through the hallway outside the conference centre, a man of about 50 got out of his chair. As soon as he saw me, he made a bee-line for me. His hand came out to shake hands, and he looked me right in the eye and said, “Thank you for the presentation. I wanted you to know that you saved my life today.”
All I could manage to come back with was, “How?”
His response caught me off-guard: “I am now going to find a professional to talk to,” he said.
His response made me realize that doing business is about more than just making money. How can we support each other better? Who could you reach out to in your life that you think may, just may, be struggling and let them know that you are there for them and you are willing to help?
If you are struggling, reach out to a professional to help you and keep asking for support until you find what you need. If I can be of any help along the way, please don’t hesitate to let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.