Difficult conditions during this fall's harvest have left some Manitoba farmers feeling stressed.

It's a way of life that can be challenging in many respects, due to factors which can't be controlled, and that can take a toll on mental health.

Seeking help is something not all farmers are willing to do but a federal initiative hopes to end the stigma.

Machines may do most of the heavy lifting on Colin Crockatt's Interlake farm but it's the financial side of running the business which weighs most heavily on his mind.

Making matters worse this year: a wet fall led to a late harvest, which meant barely getting the crop off the field in time.

"It definitely makes you stay up at night wondering when you can go in, questioning yourself, whether you can get in the field sooner or not," said Crockatt.

It can lead to stress which can take a toll, but Crockatt said it's something not many producers seem willing to talk about due to the culture of farming.

"Growing up as kids, even people in the city would've heard cowboys don't cry, tough men don't complain,” said Crockatt. “They keep it to themselves and that is the worst advice.”

A 2016 University of Guelph survey of 1100 farmers found 45 per cent of respondents had high levels of stress but 40 per cent said they would feel uneasy about seeking professional help.

Ottawa has mandated Farm Credit Canada to help farmers with mental issues through increased public awareness and greater access to supports and services in rural areas.

"Recent studies on mental health have found that farmers and their families are facing more stress and more depression than the general population,” said federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay in Ottawa. “Every year, Canada loses farmers to suicide."

MacAulay provided an update Tuesday on efforts announced in the 2018 budget to end the stigma.

Part of the strategy includes a new partnership between Farm Credit Canada and 4-H Canada to create a new healthy living initiative for the organization's 25,000 youth members.

"The first year of the initiative will see the creation of resources and tools to support youth facing mental health challenges," said Megan Bomberry with 4-H Canada.

Crockatt said that's an important step but he hopes the current generation sees it’s okay to seek help, too.

Over the past several the weeks the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food has been holding hearings on mental health and will produce a report based on the testimony they hear.

In Manitoba, anyone who needs help can call the Manitoba Farm, Rural and Northern Support Service toll free at 1 866-367-3276