Seminars will raise awareness on rural mental health issues

SPEEDSIDE – A mental health awareness seminar with a focus on the farming community will be held at Speedside United Church on March 29.

Bethany Parkinson, who has done a masters thesis on rural mental health, will be a guest speaker.

There will also be a representative of Wellington-Waterloo Mental Health Services.

Tim May, a well-known dairy farmer and blogger on agriculture issues, will also be on hand.

Bruce Miller, who is helping organize the event, says there is a general concern that farmers have often been reluctant to talk about depression and related issues.

“Finances are a problem and trade is a problem – it’s quite a strain on people, and yet they are not the type of people who are going to talk about it,” he said.

“It’s getting more attention, and they want farmers to realize that there is help for them out there.”

Speedside United Church is located at the intersection of Wellington Roads 29 and 22. 

The seminar starts at 7:30pm, followed by refreshments, and there will be a free will offering.

A similar event featuring a free lunch and a panel discussion will be held on March 26 at the Mount Forest and District Sports Complex, 850 Princess Street, starting at 11:30 am.

It is sponsored by the HOPE (Healthy Opportunities Promoting Empowerment) committee, which seeks to destigmatize mental health issues.

The Mount Forest speakers are Tim May and Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, a veterinarian and a professor at the University of Guelph. 

She is developing a program aimed at increasing mental health literacy among farmers called “In the Know”.