A mental health training program designed specifically for the agricultural sector hopes to give P.E.I. farmers the confidence to open up about their struggles.

The “In the Know” mental health literacy program for agricultural workers was developed by researchers at the University of Guelph the Ontario Veterinary College and has previously been offered to farmers in Ontario and Manitoba.

The first training session for P.E.I. will be held for free via Zoom on Monday to a limited number of participants.

The program’s goal is to train people in the agriculture community to recognize when they’re struggling with their mental health and to be able to speak about it to their peers.

Connolly Aziz, with the P.E.I. Alliance for Mental Health, said the program’s launch is “very timely,” as the ban on P.E.I. potato exports to the U.S. continues to take an economic and psychological toll on farmers.

“We’re really hoping people can take away a competence of recognizing what mental health struggle looks like, building competence and speaking to others about mental health,” he said. 

“Really, just being comfortable talking to people about their struggles and identifying those mental health signals that someone might be in distress.”

Island Morning6:43Farmer’s mental health program

We will hear more about a mental health literacy training program – from Connolly Aziz with the P-E-I Alliance for Mental Well-Being.The program is designed by farmers specifically for farmers. It is being offered – for the first time – to people in P-E-I’s agricultural community on Monday. 6:43

Aziz said the people delivering the program are farmers who’ve been matched with mental health professionals.

“That will just really give farmers the ability to talk about the unique struggles that they have with people who understand,” he said.

The program is just one of a series of supports that have been made available for farmers struggling with mental health issues. 

The Farmers Assistance Program has been providing confidential counselling services to hundreds of Island farmers and their families since its inception. The program received extra funding from the province so it could expand amid the potato exports ban.

Further “In the Know” training sessions are planned to be held in the near future.

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