March 12-13, 2020
The Little Red Wagon Winery in Clarendon was the host of a two-day Mental Health First Aid workshop on March 12 and 13, an event sponsored by The Do More Ag Foundation and Farm Credit Canada.
The workshop was put together by local organizers Cindya Labine and Rebecca Balsdon.
“It’s a community fund … through FCC to help bring awareness of mental health to farming communities across Canada,” Balsdon explained. “There were 14 communities selected and ours was one of them.”
She added that they had started the application process in September, and had been notified of their selection in November. The course gives participants the skills to help people through a variety of mental health issues, from substance abuse to suicidal thoughts, with a specific focus on the farming community.
“It’s a first aid course, so just like first aid as if you hurt your arm, it’s just to help people get to the right resources,” Balsdon explained. “You’re by no means a therapist when you leave here, but it will definitely help hone some skills on how to speak to somebody that’s going through a mental health crisis and get them to the right resources.”
She pointed out the importance of promoting the services that do exist in the community and how to access them, noting specifically that the provincial help-line, 811 option two, only works for phones with Quebec area codes. However, anyone else can dial 1 866 567 4036, and still reach the same service.
“It makes a huge difference and we should start promoting the actual number,” she said.
Balsdon said that this is the first event she and Labine have organized on the subject, but they would like to offer more to the public in the future.
“So far it’s a one-time thing, but we would definitely like to see more things happening in the community,” she said. “We had 25 people and another ten on a waitlist just to come here today, so the need and the demand are definitely there.”
The days were divided by the specific topics and participants got to test their skills with a variety of role playing exercises throughout. Balsdon noted that they had a wide variety of participants in the workshop, from clergy to professionals and young people.
“Generally everybody that will deal with farmers and youth, … it will be used everywhere, but we are focussing in on farmers specifically, because there definitely is an issue, not just in our area but Canada-wide, world-wide really,” she said.
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