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Mental health training draws heavy interest

Mental health training draws heavy interest

Do More Agriculture Foundation’s pilot project off to a promising start

Staff Writer
Mental health first aid training is in high demand across rural Canada, judging by initial response to a pilot project. 
The Do More Agriculture Foundation received over 100 applications for its Community Fund for Mental Health First Aid, a Farmscape article said yesterday. The organization closed the submission process in under a month because of the large number of responses, said Kim Keller, a Saskatchewan farmer and co-founder of the foundation, in the article. 
The foundation’s one-year pilot project, offered in partnership with Farm Credit Canada, will provide mental health first aid training to program applicants throughout Canada’s rural communities. Participants who complete the two-day training course will be certified in mental health first aid, like a certification for physical first aid training.
The course will help “people to recognize signs and symptoms that someone may be experiencing a crisis and (learn) how to intervene in that crisis until professional help can be reached, whether that be calling 9-1-1 or ensuring that person is taken to their local emergency room,” Keller said in the article.
The course is not intended to teach participants how to act as therapists or doctors, she explained. 
Rather, “it's … teaching you how to respond in a crisis situation not unlike physical first aid would train you on how to respond if someone breaks their leg and until you get them to the hospital or 9-1-1 is contacted.”
The course comes at a good time, Colin Elliot, a dairy and cash crop farmer from Phelpston and a Grain Farmers of Ontario director, told today. 
“I think it’s a great idea … especially in a year like this, where the prices are down and it’s really hard to get your crops off. There will be some people that are really hurting. When you’re hurting financially, that affects you mentally.” 
The initiative behind the training is important, too, Elliot added.
“There’s a lot of farmers who suffer in silence … they’re very stoic and they don’t come forward with their problems. I can appreciate what some people are going through.”
As someone with a nursing background who is familiar with mental health, suffering in silence is not abnormal in ag, Sandra Vos, a Brant County beef farmer, told today. 
“In the farm community, the independent spirit rules. People like to work by themselves and they like to figure out things by themselves. I think we believe that we can figure out our mental health issues as much as we can figure out whether we need to get stitches.”
The overwhelming response to the training course is a good sign, Vos said. 
“It’s great that the response is good because maybe finally people are beginning to recognize that mental health can be an illness as much as a physical illness in the farm community. It affects families far more than we probably realize.”
The Do More Agriculture Foundation will announce the communities that will receive the training first on Nov. 1. The organization will place other communities on a wait list and will notify them when funding becomes available.
For more information, visit or email hello@domoreag. 
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