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Mental health webinars for Cdn. farmers

Mental health webinars for Cdn. farmers

AgSafe Alberta and other industry groups have teamed up to produce Sowing the Seeds of Mental Health

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Alberta ag organization has teamed up with other Canadian industry groups and a human resources firm to bring a series of free mental health webinars to the ag community.

AgSafe Alberta is among the organizations behind Sowing the Seeds of Mental Health.

The others are:

  • Farm Safety Nova Scotia
  • The “Network” at the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture
  • Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.
  • AgSafe BC
  • Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Members of Howatt HR Consulting help deliver the webinar material.

The suite of 10 webinars, which became available at the beginning of January, will run until March 8.

Past webinars are available for people to watch if they’ve missed one.

“We wanted to be able to provide tools that help farmers and ranchers find ways to build resiliency,” Jody Wacowich, executive director of AgSafe Alberta, told Farms.com.

Each presentation focuses on a specific topic.

The webinar on Feb. 22, for example, will give attendees tips on taming negative emotions.

“Learn how emotions can shape how we show up for ourselves and others,” the webinar’s description says. “Learn the importance of recognizing negative emotions and five steps you can take to manage negative emotions.”

These presentations also help further overall conversations surrounding mental health in the ag sector.

Industry professionals and advocates have made good strides in this area, but there’s more work to be done, Wacowich said.

“We’ve done a really great job at creating awareness but we’re still dealing with some of the stigma,” Wacowich said “There’s still that mindset that if someone sees my vehicle outside of (a mental health professional’s) office, they’re going to start talking about me.”

And stigma does play a role in whether members of the ag community seek mental health support.

Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, a professor in the University of Guelph’s department of population medicine, has studied the ag community and mental health since 2015.

About 31 per cent of the people involved in her studies have indicated seeking professional help could stigmatize their life.

Wacowich hopes more webinars and conversations around mental health will continue to reassure people that it’s okay to need support.

If anything, COVID has helped people reach out for help, she said.

“There’s still some work to be done of helping people get through any hesitancy of reaching out for help,” she said. “One positive of COVID is a lot of these appointments are available online, so someone doesn’t have to drive their vehicle into town if that’s something they’re concerned with.”


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