Mental health part 1: It all starts with being there

By Lesley Kelly
6th September 2019

If a friend or neighbour found the courage to reach out to you with mental health problems, would you know what to do?

Since my husband and I publicly shared our mental health journeys a couple of summers ago and have had the opportunity to speak with so many of those within and outside of the agricultural industry about mental health, there is one question that we get asked and for us, it always stands out.

“How can I help someone who is struggling?”

I get it. Watching someone you love and care for, struggle with a mental health illness, is one of the hardest things. I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do, who to turn to or what to say.

I am not a medical professional or a mental health expert. Through the years of going through my own battles, supporting my family and friends, and co-founding The Do More Agriculture Foundation, I’ve learned some things that have really helped me and others around me in those hard times.

I’m going to create a series of posts over the next few weeks, maybe months and share some of my guiding principles in hopes that it helps others, both in their own journeys and helping support their loved ones in theirs.

It all starts with being there…

The industry is facing alarming numbers of depression, anxiety, high stress and suicide.  We’ve been in situations where a friend, neighbour and loved one needed our support, but most likely, we felt we were not prepared to offer the support they needed.

In the past when I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t start the conversation and shied away from it. Unfortunately, I turned away.

It all starts with being there…

The conversation around mental health is growing. Our industry has made great strides over the last couple of years when it comes to mental health. Conversations are happening at ag events and trade shows, at company boardroom tables, at the dinner table and on social media.

Talking about mental health is the start. This breaks the silence that so many are suffering in and helps to reduce the barriers and stigma that are attached to mental health and mental illness.

We now need the knowledge, skills and confidence to step up and help one another.

It all starts with being there…

Learning to recognize when someone is struggling, having the courageous conversations and being there for yourself are the next steps that I’ll be sharing as a series.

Every person and situation is different. Every conversation is different. I won’t be able to share with you exactly what to do but I hope I can help bring you that confidence and knowledge of what I’ve learned and I hope you can share with me what you’ve learned as well.

The ag industry is an amazing industry because of our people. We need to help take care of our people.

It all starts with being there…

For a list of resources, please visit