Mental wellness network for agriculture community launched
The Farmer and Rancher Mental Health (FARMh) Initiative has launched a mental wellness network along with a virtual toolbox full of mental health resources for the agriculture community.
The program was initially launched in 2021 with a research team who collected data from over 100 producers about effective mental supports.
The information gathered during phase one of the program was used to launch the SaskAgMatters Network.
Phase two of the project was launched and focuses on a virtual toolbox that the agriculture community can use.
Dr. Michelle Pavloff is the research chair of rural health at Saskatchewan Polytechnic and she said the toolbox would contain a range of resources.
“Whether that is suicide intervention strategies, help for addictions, and free counselling services,” Pavloff said. “What we are doing is looking at filling the drawers of that toolbox and evaluating them to find out if they are meeting the needs of the producers.”
The toolbox will be incorporated into the SaskAgMatters Network. The network already offers free mental health services for producers.
“They can go to www.SaskAgMatters.ca and have access to six free one hour counselling sessions for themselves and their families,” Pavloff said.
Will Banford and his family are cattle ranchers in Eastend, Sask. They donated a heifer to SaskAgMatters at the start of the pandemic to help kickstart the program.
“In the farming community, there is a huge stigma,” Banford said. “You have to be tough and not talk about things.”
With the donation, SaskAgMatters Network was able to provide producers free counselling sessions.
“It is a good feeling that our family wanted to help try and break the stigma,” Banford said. “[Producers] are some of the best people out there but they have a lot of stuff that is built up but they don’t talk about it.”
Phase two is expected to end in 2025 with phase 3 focusing on evaluating the network and toolbox and making adjustments and altering resources as needed.
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