Funding offered for ‘mental health first aid’ courses in farm communities

Course teaches people how to help those suffering from depression and anxiety or contemplating suicide

Do More Agriculture Foundation co-founders Himanshu Singh (left), Lesley Rae Kelly (centre), and Kim Keller at FarmTech last January.
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A new foundation focused on promoting mental wellness for farmers is offering funding for communities willing to put on ‘mental health first aid’ workshops.

The two-day course offers training on how to help “a person having a panic attack, support someone who lives with depression and anxiety, and intervene when signs of suicidal ideation are present.”

“If I was to sprain my ankle, chances are you would know what to do,” said Lesley Rae Kelly, a Saskatchewan farmer and co-founder of the Do More Agriculture Foundation, which was launched at FarmTech in January.

“But if I was to have a panic attack, chances are, you might not.”

The foundation received funding from Farm Credit Canada to create a pilot program to put on the mental health first aid courses in 12 to 14 agricultural communities.

Demand is expected to be high, the organization said. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 30 and a lottery system will then be used to pick the 12 to 14 successful applicants.

The application should be made by someone willing to organize a Community Mental Health First Aid Certification course in their agriculture community. That person will work with Do More Ag to organize the training.

“As the lead organizer, responsibilities include, but are not limited to: confirming a facilitator, facility rental, catering coordination, attendance recruitment, collecting attendee names, providing feedback to The Do More Ag Foundation, and submitting training expenses to Do More Ag for reimbursement,” the foundation said in a news release.

The pilot program (called the Community Fund for Mental Health First Aid) will cover the expenses, including facilitator costs, course materials, catering, and, if required, room rental. (Catering and room rental costs will be capped.)

The application form and additional info can be found at the Do More Ag website.

The course was developed in Australia in 2001, was brought to Canada in 2006 by the Alberta Mental Health Board, and is now overseen by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. More information on all of its courses can be found on its website.

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