What if we took a moment to realize the small victories of everyday life? What if, “instead of seeing everything there is to do, we also saw what we did, the accomplishments we were able to achieve during the day or during the week”? This is one of the tips that Audrée Bourdages, from Au cœur des familles agricoles, offers us to be more satisfied with oneself and to feel good. A rank worker in Gaspe Peninsula and Magdalen Islands, Audrée tells us about the support she offers and shares some advice for living life to its best.

Working in the agricultural sector?

Does Au cœur des familles agricoles mean anything to you? “It is a provincial organization present in most administrative regions of Quebec. We help farmers and their families to promote their well-being and mental health. Our workers are there to help them find a better life balance through what these people experience in their profession,” explains Audrée. A social worker by training, Audrée grew up on a dairy farm. As a rank worker, she is the one who has been offering the services of Au cœur des familles agricoles in our region since the fall of 2021.

But what does a regular worker mean? “My role is very broad. It really depends on the needs of each person I support. What I aim to do is put people first behind the agricultural business. Because often, farmers are people who are super dedicated to their profession; they will put all their energies on their business; and they tend to forget themselves a little. If I manage to bring the priority back to them, to their individual needs, it will be mission accomplished. And this is done in several ways. I can offer individual support; we discuss the situations experienced and then try to find solutions together. Sometimes the process also involves family meetings. Other times, it may involve directing people to other resources, for example: accountants, agricultural advisors or professionals from the health and social services network. We are a bit of a gateway for the agricultural population. In addition, what sets us apart is our flexibility and our desire to offer adapted services. I go to the farms. If there is a person who receives me and who is doing their job or who is in their tractor, well, I go with the person and we talk while they work,” explains Audrée.

Tips for feeling good

Are you a farmer yourself? Or do you have relatives who work in the agricultural sector? We asked Adurée to share another of her well-being tips with us. She replies that one of the tips she often gives is to “slow down the pace when the season allows”. Because it happens that agricultural producers work extra hard in the hope of having “a real vacation, in quotes, like people in the general population”, which ultimately does not come true. Whereas, “taking advantage of calmer moments to slow down can be a good way to take care of yourself. It can have as many beneficial effects as someone going on vacation for a few days. It allows farmers to preserve themselves in their profession in the face of the large workload they have to accomplish on a daily basis,” she explains.

But what to do if, at some point, things no longer work? “It is certain that the basic advice that applies to the general population also applies to farmers. I think, among other things, of the importance of having a social network, people around us who offer us support. When things aren’t going well, it’s always helpful to be able to talk to someone you trust. Otherwise, the other thing that comes to mind is certainly to call Au cœur des familles agricoles. This is a good solution because it allows for a quick response. There is a worker who is responsible for the telephone line. So, even if I am not available to answer the phone, agricultural producers can speak to someone quickly. This service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Sometimes, just being able to vent, to express what we feel, then to start thinking with someone neutral, can be helpful. After that, it’s certain that if the person wants follow-up, the request will be sent to me if they are in the Gasée Peninsula and Magdalen Islands,” replies Audrée.

Talking about men’s well-being is important

Au cœur des familles agricoles helps both female and male customers. However, “there are still a lot of taboos regarding mental health among men,” thinks the rank-and-file worker, who is also involved in the Table de concertation sur les réalités masculines GÎM. According to her, we must work to deconstruct certain beliefs (for example: men must always work things out for themselves). She explains how personalized support and accompaniment can make a big difference in the lives of the people she meets. “Once the step – not always easy – of asking for help is completed, we have created a bond of trust, then the person opens up, that leaves so much room for great successes” . Audrée adds that “people are super grateful”, because they find solutions that they would not necessarily have thought of on their own, help adapted to their needs, a helping hand to get better.

What to remember? That we should not hesitate to seek support when we are experiencing difficulties. The services of Au cœur des familles agricoles are free and confidential. And they can make a big difference. So if you feel like things aren’t going well, don’t be left alone with your problems. Because asking for help is powerful.

To find out more or to contact Au cœur des familles agricoles: