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HomeNewsCMHA Ontario Launching Mental Health Awareness Training For The Farm Community

CMHA Ontario Launching Mental Health Awareness Training For The Farm Community

KAWARTHA LAKES-A new mental health awareness training program specifically for farmers will soon be available to rural and agricultural communities across the province through a partnership of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the University of Guelph and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.

In 2017, an increase in the number of local farmers who had taken their own lives had mental health professionals concerned.

Although they didn’t have exact numbers due to the stigma involved, Jack Veitch, Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge, told Kawartha 411 News he was hearing a lot more about it recently.

“What we do know is I have more anecdotal evidence of a lot of farmers coming to me and reporting instances of suicide,” Veitch told Kawartha 411. “A lot have expressed concerns with just work and then we had a hard season where we came off a year where we had a ton of rain and then no rain and I think a lot of crops were effected and then unfortunately maybe we’ve had a group of professionals that hadn’t talked about their mental health and wellness before and we know when we don’t talk about health and wellness and we don’t address our mental health, bad things can happen.”

A study led by University of Guelph Professor Andria Jones-Bitton, reveals that farmers are feeling the pressure. “A national survey that we conducted in 2015-2016 showed higher levels of stress, depression, and burnout, and lower levels of resilience than the general population,” Jones-Bitton told Kawartha 411. “A recent report from the US CDC showed that farmers (actually categorized as farmers/forestry/fishery combined) were the occupation with the highest rates of suicides amongst males in all professions.”

Read the full story here:https://www.kawartha411.ca/2017/10/30/an-increase-in-suicides-among-local-farmers-has-experts-concerned/

In the Know is a mental health literacy program developed at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph created specifically to educate the agricultural community. With support from the OFA, several CMHA branches in Ontario will begin facilitating this half-day training, some within just a few weeks. Training will be delivered online until public health measures allow for in-person delivery.

“CMHA Ontario is honoured and thrilled to be launching In the Know through CMHA branches around the province,” said CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville. “We know this program will give the agricultural community the opportunity to discuss mental health openly and safely. We strongly believe that In the Know, with its farming-specific scenarios that put mental health into perspective for agriculture workers, will resonate well with this community, and improve lives as a result.”

An evaluated pilot of In the Know training in 2019 showed the course increased participants’ mental health knowledge and confidence in recognizing mental health struggles, speaking about mental health, and helping others who are struggling. Spearheaded by Dr. Briana Hagen, Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton of the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph, and a stakeholder team from farming and mental health backgrounds, In the Know aims to build mental health knowledge and increase help-seeking among farmers. The course provides education on topics such as stress, depression, anxiety, substance misuse and how to start a conversation around mental well-being.

“We are delighted to be partnering with CMHA Ontario and are confident that the In the Know program is in great hands in being made available to agricultural communities across Ontario,” said Dr. Jones-Bitton. “The three-way partnership between CMHA Ontario, the OFA, and the University of Guelph beautifully demonstrates the power of combining research, advocacy and outreach.”

CMHA Ontario will be working closely with the OFA, the province’s largest general farm organization, to ensure maximum outreach and benefit to Ontario’s agricultural community.

“As an organization, we are thrilled to be part of the launch of this program,” said Peggy Brekveld, OFA President. “Increasing our awareness and confidence discussing mental health will contribute to resilience for farm families and rural communities across Ontario.”

In the Know training is being made available through CMHA branches thanks in part to a generous donation from Trillium Mutual Insurance. Trillium contributed $50,000 through its ROOTS Community Fund, which supported the development of a facilitator guide to equip facilitators to deliver training through local CMHAs.

“At Trillium, we feel strongly about raising awareness and supporting programs geared towards mental health awareness for farmers and those serving in the agricultural communities across Ontario,” said Trillium President & CEO Tracy MacDonald. “We feel it is time for farmers to have better access to programs like In the Know, delivered by CMHA Ontario. We are proud that our financial contribution will make the delivery of this program possible. For us, it is a great opportunity through a terrific program to support the communities supporting us!”

Local launches and upcoming In the Know training dates will be announced independently by CMHA branches in the coming weeks.


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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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