Mental health for Canadian youth in agriculture was a major topic of discussion at Agribition on Tuesday.

A major partnership was announced between 4H Canada and businesses working together to form the Healthy Living Initiative, with a goal of helping youth living in rural areas.

“It’s paramount that young people know how to navigate the challenges they face so that they can succeed,” said Shannon Benner, CEO of 4H Canada. “It’s the difference between surviving and thriving.”

The organization says young people in rural and remote communities are at a higher risk of experiencing mental and physical health struggles than those living in larger cities.

“Rural communities have been somewhat overlooked,” Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Ron Bonnett said. “They don’t have the same resources as urban centres.”

The Healthy Living Initiative is a two-year agreement that will kick off in the spring of 2019. The first year is focused on creating resources and tools for people facing mental health challenges and communicating the best way to access those resources.

The second year will look into physical health, nutrition and well-being. It will also help youth develop their strengths.

“Agriculture producers have unique circumstances on their farm,” Bonnett said. “If they call someone with the training from an urban setting, they may not understand the issues.”

Agribition says its goal is to provide producers with the education and skills to help themselves and their families handle mental health.