DMA-FCC men­tal health aware­ness pro­gram ex­pand­ing in sec­ond year

The Southwest Booster - - Opinion -

Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful oneyear pi­lot project, Do More Agri­cul­ture (DMA) Foun­da­tion and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) an­nounced they are ex­tend­ing and ex­pand­ing their part­ner­ship to bring men­tal health aware­ness and train­ing to ru­ral Canada.

“We are so very grate­ful for the pos­i­tive feed­back, over­whelm­ing in­ter­est and pow­er­ful im­pact this pi­lot project is hav­ing on the lives of so many pro­duc­ers and ru­ral res­i­dents,” DMA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Adelle Ste­wart said. “It’s thrilling to think of the reach we will have across Canada through this con­tin­u­a­tion and ex­pan­sion of men­tal health lit­er­acy train­ing in ru­ral Canada, as well as the many more agri­cul­ture-fo­cused work­shops we will be able to of­fer our pro­duc­ers.”

Un­der the pi­lot project, FCC pro­vided $50,000 in fund­ing to fa­cil­i­tate men­tal health first aid train­ing for pro­duc­ers and agri­cul­ture in­dus­try in 12 se­lected com­mu­ni­ties across Canada. As a re­sult, 236 ru­ral res­i­dents are now cer­ti­fied men­tal health first aid re­spon­ders and lead­ers.

The two-day train­ing pro­gram, de­vel­oped by the Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion of Canada, is aimed at developing com­mu­nity lead­ers, who are trained to iden­tify men­tal health con­cerns and pro­vide ini­tial sup­ports to pro­duc­ers cop­ing with dif­fi­cult or un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances. The pro­gram is of­fered at no cost to par­tic­i­pants.

“The train­ing is aimed at rais­ing men­tal health aware­ness and equip­ping par­tic­i­pants with ba­sic skills to pro­vide as­sis­tance when help is not im­me­di­ately avail­able,” Ste­wart said. “The net­work of vol­un­teers who can help has taken root and will con­tinue to grow un­der this re­newed and ex­panded part­ner­ship.”

In 2020, FCC will in­vest an ad­di­tional $100,000 to the project’s reach in the sec­ond year.

“Men­tal health is­sues im­pact ev­ery seg­ment of our so­ci­ety and those who work in Canada’s thriv­ing agri­cul­ture and food in­dus­try are not im­mune,” said Michael Hof­fort, FCC pres­i­dent and CEO. “As a com­mit­ted part­ner to this in­dus­try, we rec­og­nize the need for in­creased men­tal health sup­port in agri­cul­ture, where peo­ple – of­ten lo­cated in ru­ral Canada – can some­times feel iso­lated and don’t al­ways know who to turn to for help.”

“Our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to work­ing with all part­ners to ad­dress the men­tal well-be­ing chal­lenges faced by Cana­dian farm­ers. By build­ing a net­work of cer­ti­fied men­tal health re­spon­ders, Do More Ag is con­tribut­ing to men­tal health well-be­ing and aware­ness of res­i­dents through­out ru­ral Canada,” Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Agri-food Marie-claude Bibeau said. “The de­mand for this type of train­ing is ev­i­dent and our gov­ern­ment, through FCC, is pleased to an­nounce in­creased fund­ing to this im­por­tant ini­tia­tive.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for train­ing pro­gram fund­ing will open later this fall and train­ings will oc­cur through­out early 2020. In­ter­ested com­mu­ni­ties will be able to ap­ply on­line at www.do­more.ag.

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