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Creating a listing of Mental Health Service Providers Specializing in Farm Families

"40% of producers across Canada reported that they would feel uneasy about seeking professional help due to what people may think." Results from the National Survey of Farmer Mental Health, conducted by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton at the University of Guelph

Last week we spoke with Dr Judi Malone, a registered psychologist who is the CEO for the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta (PAA), about ways to streamline how rural farm families access registered psychologists. There are approximately 4500 psychologists registered in Alberta, the majority of which practice in an urban setting. We learned that there is such a high demand for psychologists right now that many do not list with referral services or advertise their services as they receive enough referrals though community contacts. The lack of rural psychologists in the PAA member listing is a combination of members choosing not to list, and a reflection of where they are working.

The PAA, however, launched a Community of Practice for Rural and Northern Psychologists to be able to share and access relevant resources, help to develop pubic education resources, collaborate on advocacy and knowledge transfer and network with colleagues with similar specializations and interests. While there is not currently a “Farm” specific community of practice, that “Rural and Northern Practice” would be an excellent start for engagement. Perhaps a farm specific community of practice might just develop as things progress.

We also talked about the potential of linking PAA members to a listing service that the Do More Agriculture Foundation is working on, and Dr. Malone was open to the idea and even gave an example of how a similar collaboration happened with paramedics. The paramedics went so far as to develop a one hour training on “What it is like to be a paramedic” that can be used by psychologists that have an interest in specializing in treating paramedics. The same can be done for farmers, and perhaps with the Do More Agriculture “AgCulture” course it may already be done. We also told Dr. Malone about the research and expert content being developed by the “In the Know” developers out of the University of Guelph on farm culture and the research project in Saskatchewan on defining “farm culture”.

Going forward we have committed to connecting the PAA to the Do More Ag foundation and to continue to keep in touch with Dr. Malone as the Alberta Farm Mental Health Network continues to grow.

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