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AgKnow supports farmers' mental health has extensive information on webinars, conferences and other related events and resources

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county’s agricultural service board (ASB) has been given an updated on the activities and plans of the AgKnow Alberta Farm Mental Health Network (AFMHN). 

The review came during the Sept. 18 ASB meeting, held in person and online. Made up of county councillors and appointed public members, the board advises the province and county on agricultural issues and concerns.

AgKnow program director Linda Hunt appeared before the board on zoom.

The network provides access to therapists, counsellors, community service providers and resources to support farmers and farm families. The organization’s website has extensive information on webinars, conferences and other related events and resources.

The AFMHN was created in 2021 to provide expert advice to policymakers and program developers to assist in developing made-in-Alberta approach to farm mental health.

In May 2022 the network presented a white paper outlining findings and recommendations for a made-in-Alberta approach to farm mental health.

Provincial funding was approved to develop a website portal to help de-stigmatize farm mental health and provide resources to help expand Alberta’s capacity for helping farmers and their families and rebranding to AgKnow was also completed.

AgKnow was developed to identify the pinch points of stress for Alberta farmers and actively engage in the mental health and healthcare ecosystems to address them, she said.

The groups vision is “not only to find evidence to focus efforts and monitor progress but also to make recommendations that policymakers can use to support resilient rural communities that we all rely on for food, energy and recreation,” she said.

Three current initiatives of the organization are addressing livestock depopulation, farm transition and family farm resiliency.

Stress factors identified in the farm community current include industry regulation and paperwork, uncertain crop yield and forage production, finances, family disagreements, and volatile markets, she said.

“Our AgKnow therapist network will refer clients who want to try medication, or need that kind of medical side of the mental health treatment. There is continuous care,” she said.

AgKnow works with other stakeholder groups and organizations focused on farm community mental health, she said.

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