The Manitoba Farmer Wellness Program opened its doors on March 1st, 2022, and a year later, they're continuing to grow and spread awareness.
Founding Board Member and Co-Chair, Roberta Galbraith, is going to be presenting at this week's Dauphin Ag Society Farm Outlook, and she says spreading awareness has become a big focus.
"We opened the doors on March first, 2022 and we thought, people know that the programs out there and uptake will be pretty quick. And we did have, initially, we had a little run of folks that were looking for the program, and then things just really died off. Partly that would be spring seeding and whatnot, but partly we realized very quickly that awareness about the program and its accessibility just wasn't out there."
Galbraith says they had to adapt their strategy, making awareness a top priority. That isn't anything new, however, as spreading awareness is a big way that organizations are addressing the stigma that comes with talking about mental health and well-being.
"I'd like to think people are becoming much more comfortable talking about mental health and wellness, and when they're just not feeling ok. So let's hope that some of that stigma and those barriers are being reduced."
Part of spreading awareness for the program is going out to events, like Manitoba Ag Days earlier this year, and Farm Outlook 2023 later this week.
The Farmer Wellness program provides six free counseling sessions a year for farmers and their families, with certified counselors who are in the ag industry and know the stress that's put on producers. You can find out more about the program on their website here.