CMHA Ontario launching mental health awareness training for the farm community

(Toronto, March 3, 2021) – A new mental health awareness training program specifically for farmers will soon be available to rural and agricultural communities across the province through a partnership of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the University of Guelph and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.

In the Know is a mental health literacy program developed at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph created specifically to educate the agricultural community. With support from the OFA, several CMHA branches in Ontario will begin facilitating this half-day training, some within just a few weeks. Trainings will be delivered online until public health measures allow for in-person delivery.

“CMHA Ontario is honoured and thrilled to be launching In the Know through CMHA branches around the province,” said CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville. “We know this program will give the agricultural community the opportunity to discuss mental health openly and safely. We strongly believe that In the Know, with its farming-specific scenarios that put mental health into perspective for agriculture workers, will resonate well with this community, and improve lives as a result.”

An evaluated pilot of In the Know training in 2019 showed the course increased participants’ mental health knowledge and confidence in recognizing mental health struggles, speaking about mental health, and helping others who are struggling. Spearheaded by Dr. Briana Hagen, Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton of the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph, and a stakeholder team from farming and mental health backgrounds, In the Know aims to build mental health knowledge and increase help-seeking among farmers. The course provides education on topics such as stress, depression, anxiety, substance misuse and how to start a conversation around mental well-being.

“We are delighted to be partnering with CMHA Ontario and are confident that the In the Know program is in great hands in being made available to agricultural communities across Ontario,” said Dr. Jones-Bitton. “The three-way partnership between CMHA Ontario, the OFA, and the University of Guelph beautifully demonstrates the power of combining research, advocacy and outreach.”

CMHA Ontario will be working closely with the OFA, the province’s largest general farm organization, to ensure maximum outreach and benefit to Ontario’s agricultural community.

“As an organization, we are thrilled to be part of the launch of this program,” said Peggy Brekveld, OFA President. “Increasing our awareness and confidence discussing mental health will contribute to resilience for farm families and rural communities across Ontario.”

In the Know training is being made available through CMHA branches thanks in part to a generous donation from Trillium Mutual Insurance. Trillium contributed $50,000 through its ROOTS Community Fund, which supported development of a facilitator guide to equip facilitators to deliver training through local CMHAs.

“At Trillium, we feel strongly about raising awareness and supporting programs geared towards mental health awareness for farmers and those serving in the agricultural communities across Ontario,” said Trillium President & CEO Tracy MacDonald. “We feel it is time for farmers to have better access to programs like In the Know, delivered by CMHA Ontario. We are proud that our financial contribution will make the delivery of this program possible. For us, it is a great opportunity through a terrific program to support the communities supporting us!”

Local launches and upcoming In the Know training dates will be announced independently by CMHA branches in the coming weeks.

About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 28 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.

About Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca.

About the University of Guelph
One of Canada’s top comprehensive and research-intensive universities, the University of Guelph spans urban hubs and rural communities. Established in 1964, the University enjoys a reputation for innovation and excellence dating back more than 150 years to its founding colleges: Ontario Veterinary College, Ontario Agricultural College and Macdonald Institute. Today U of G’s seven colleges conduct leading-edge teaching and research in the physical and life sciences, business, arts, social sciences, and agricultural and veterinary sciences. We have nearly 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at campuses in Guelph, Toronto and Ridgetown and 185,000 alumni in more than 160 countries worldwide. The University of Guelph, and everyone who studies here, explores here, teaches here and works here, is committed to a simple, shared purpose: to Improve Life.

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For more information, contact:

Justin Dickie
Senior Strategic Communications Advisor
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
T: 416-977-5580, ext. 4175
E: jdickie@ontario.cmha.ca

Peggy Brekveld
President
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
E: peggy.brekveld@ofa.on.ca

Deirdre Healey
Manager, News Service
University of Guelph
T: 519-824-4120 Ext. 56581
E: healeyd@uoguelph.ca

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