Empathy, listening skills key elements of farmers’ mental health program

A new mental health program for farmers called In The Know is being piloted this month in Ontario.

Three versions of the program — developed over the past year at the University of Guelph with PhD candidate Briana Hagen and the guidance of a 30-member advisory committee consisting of farmers, veterinarians, mental health experts and adult education specialists — will be available in 2019.

The first version, a four-hour in-person workshop, is being road tested now, with the goal of having it ready by early 2019.

Deborah Vanberkel, a dairy farmer from Lennox and Addington County with professional training in mental health management, is leading the pilot sessions. It’s envisioned she will hold five sessions throughout the province, with up to 25 participants who actively engage with farmers in each session.

Feedback from this pilot will be used to finalize the workshop content and to further develop the full-day workshop, which should be ready by the spring.

These will be followed by an eight-module online version sometime in the late spring or early summer.

Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, the program’s academic director, says the three pillars of the program are knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to mental health for farmers.

Based on the advisory committee’s recommendations, specific parts of the curriculum will involve an understanding of mental illness (such as its impact on the workforce), common conditions including stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide, conversations about recognizing someone at risk, empathy, and active listening. Vignettes and common realistic scenarios will be used to give participants the opportunity to put their learning into action, says Jones-Bitton.

“We’re not trying to make people counsellors,” she says “This is about how to be an ally and lend an ear, to recognize when someone is struggling, and to say something.”

She anticipates active listening to be an area that receives a great deal of attention.

“When we hear someone explain a problem, we sometimes have a tendency to try to fix it, rather than just letting them talk,” she says. “Talking is important for people struggling with their mental health. Listening can be incredibly helpful. We really need to actively listen, empathize, and let them talk it out.”

Related:

Leave a Reply

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

gdpr, __cfduid, PHPSESSID, wordpress_test_cookie, woocommerce_items_in_cart, woocommerce_cart_hash, wp_woocommerce_session, wordpress_logged_in, wordpress_sec, wp-settings, wp-settings-time, __cf_mob_redir, wordpress_cache
__cfduid

Marketing

Measuring interactions with the ads on the domain.

__gads,fsk_ut_2317
scmtid,v,a,JSESSIONID
IDE

Statistics

These are used to track user interaction and detect potential problems. These help us improve our services by providing analytical data on how users use this site.

_ga,_gid,_gat,_cb,_chartbeat2,_chartbeat4
_ga,_gat
_ga,_gid
metrics_token

Preferences

Preference cookies enable the website to remember information that changes the way the website behaves or looks, like your preferred language or the region that you are in.

chartdefaults, comment_author, comment_author_email, comment_author_url
JSESSIONID, _os_session,anonymous_votes,csrf-param,csrf-token,user,user-id,user-platform,intercom-session,intercom-lou,intercom-session
personalization_id, tfw_exp