Annual Report - 2011 - Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Servic

Annual Report - 2011 - Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Servic

Manitoba Farm & Rural

Support Services


Support Services

stress line:

2011 Annual Report

Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Services


A message from the Program Manager . 3

History & Mandate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Counsellors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Programs & Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Farmer-to-Farmer Project . . . . . . . . . . .7

MFRSS stats 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Support Services

Toll Free 1-866-367-3276

office: (204) 571-4183

fax: (204) 571-4184

Unit 1, 217 10th Street

Brandon MB

Canada R7A 4E9


A message from the Program Manager



farmer 1-866-367-3276

For the past 10 years, the provincially funded

Manitoba Farm & Rural Stress Line

provided free and confidential information,

support and counselling services to rural

Manitobans via the toll-free telephone

helpline. During this time call volumes

steadily increased, from 481 calls in 2001,

to 2,223 calls in 2011. Numerous factors

contributed to the steady increase in calls

including: increased awareness of our services,

increase in farm and rural stress, and a

decrease in the stigma attached to speaking

to a counsellor. Our numerous outreach

activities throughout the province have

focused on the importance of managing and

coping with stress, including how and when

to reach out for help.

In 2011, in consultation with our staff,

Advisory Committee, and funders, we

re-named our program Manitoba Farm &

Rural Support Services. The new name better

reflects the broad range of counselling

and support services we have come to offer,

including on-line counselling. The Hon.

Stan Struthers, Minister of Agriculture,

Food & Rural Initiatives, officially relaunched

the program at Ag Days in

January. At the event, Hon. Struthers stated:

“We welcome the expansion of support and

counselling services being offered by

Manitoba Farm and Rural Support

Services. Individuals and families living in

rural communities or on a farm may find

it difficult to meet with a counsellor.

Making these services available online,

means they’re available when and where

people need them.”

Manitoba Health Minister, Hon. Theresa

Oswald also sent these words:

“Life is full of challenges and the Manitoba

Farm and Rural Support Services can help

people find solutions that work for their

unique situations. Counsellors provide

important emotional support and can

direct callers to any other support services

they may require.”

With the introduction of on-line counselling

rural Manitobans can now choose to

speak privately with a MFRSS counsellor in

a variety of ways: by phone, email,

LiveChat, or Skype (video-conferencing) in

the privacy of their own homes. We are

excited about the possibilities these new

counselling formats offer, and look forward

to reaching out to more rural Manitobans,

young and old, in the coming months.

Janet Smith,

Program Manager


History & Mandate

The Manitoba Farm & Rural Support

Service (MFRSS) began in December, 2000

as the Manitoba Farm & Rural Stress Line.

Its mandate: to provide free & confidential

information, support and counselling to

farm families and all rural Manitobans.

Farm and rural people have unique needs

and concerns, as well as limited access to

mental health services in some areas.

Research has shown that this population

benefits from specialized mental health services

provided by professionals with farming

backgrounds. The Manitoba Farm & Rural

Stress Line was renamed Manitoba Farm &

Rural Support Services in 2011.

The MFRSS is funded by Manitoba

Health, in cooperation with Manitoba

Agriculture, Food & Rural Initiatives

(MAFRI). It is administered by Klinic

Community Health Centre and is one of

several counselling programs run by Klinic.

An Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives

from both mental health and

agricultural organizations, meets 3 times per

year to offer guidance on MFRSS programming

and service delivery.

The Manitoba Farm & Rural Support

Services is located in Brandon and is staffed

by paid, professional counsellors and

trained peer volunteer counsellors, all of

whom have farming backgrounds. This

combination of education, skills and lived

experience makes them uniquely qualified

to understand and respond to our rural

callers. Many farmers are reluctant to speak

to a counsellor or other health care professional

about personal issues, and having

someone who knows the business of agriculture

is extremely important to them.


Klinic Community Health Centre

870 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3G 0P1


The Manitoba Farm & Rural Support

Services employs one Program Manager and

four full and part-time counsellors. In addition

to their professional qualifications, all

counsellors have farming backgrounds.

Counsellors are also certified Crisis Workers

through the American Association of

Suicidology (AAS) and have taken the

ASIST suicide intervention program. Ongoing

professional development opportunities

are available to staff throughout the year.

The MFRSS also has a dynamic team of

volunteer counsellors who answer the ‘Farm

Line’, The Manitoba Suicide Line and the

Klinic Crisis Line. Volunteers undertake a

rigorous screening and interview process

before being accepted into the program and

then participate in the Klinic Crisis Line

Volunteer Training Program. This 80 hour

training and the practicum that follows

equips volunteers to handle a wide variety

of issues that may present themselves on the

Lines including: relationship stress, depression

and anxiety, domestic violence, sexual

assault, addictions, and suicide to name a

few. Volunteers work under close supervision

of MFRSS staff.

Join Our Team!


Manitoba Suicide Line

• Klinic 24 Hour Crisis Line

Manitoba Farm &

Rural Stress Line


For more information

about volunteering in

Brandon call


All volunteers must be 18 years or older and be able to provide

a Criminal Records Search and Child Abuse Registry Check.

We are a ProChoice Agency that supports diversity.


Programs & Services

stay healthy,

stay connected


Manitoba Farm & Rural Stress Line

The Manitoba Farm & Rural Support

Services’s core program is the toll free

telephone counselling line. The Line operates

Monday to Friday, 10 AM to 9 PM.

It is staffed by counsellors with farm backgrounds.

On-line Counselling

Clients can now connect with a counsellor

online via email, instant messaging (chat)

and Skype. Online counselling provides

people with additional ways to reach out

for help that is free, anonymous, and


Social Media

Our presence on social media, including

FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube are playing

increasingly important roles in reaching out

to target audiences and enhancing our networking


MFRSS Website

Our new website ( is

another important resource for farm and

rural families and the professionals who work

with them. The site contains information on

Current Events, Signs and Symptoms of

Stress, Managing Stress, Programs for

Farmers, and Links to related sites.

Informational Display

Our informational display continues to be a

popular addition to trade shows, health fairs

and agricultural events throughout the

province. The display can be shipped to

groups that wish to include it in their

events and, whenever possible, will be

staffed by a volunteer or MFRSS employee.

Public Education & Training

Speakers from the MFRSS facilitate workshops

on topics such as: Understanding

Farm & Rural Stress, Basic Stress

Management, Work/Life Balance, Working

With Farmers in Distress, Building

Effective Communication Skills, and more.

Our facilitators also develop workshops on

specific topics requested by groups and


Volunteer Crisis Counsellor Program

Volunteer peer counsellors work alongside

MFRSS staff on the Manitoba Suicide Line

and the Klinic Crisis Line. Those with

farming backgrounds can also take calls on

the Manitoba Farm & Rural Stress Line.

Brandon and Area Suicide

Bereavement Support Group

This group is open to those who have lost a

loved one to suicide. The group meets once

a month in the MFRSS office and is cofacilitated

by a MFRSS counsellor and a

suicide loss survivor.

Resource Centre

The Manitoba Farm & Rural Resource

Centre contains books, articles, videos and

journals related to rural and agricultural

mental health. The Resource Centre is open

to the general public, volunteers, community

groups, individuals and students. Many

of our resources are available online at The Resource Centre

is open from Monday to Friday, 10 AM to

9 PM by appointment. For more information,

call 571-4183 or



Farmer-to-Farmer 2’ Project

In 2010 the Brandon and Area United Way

funded the ‘Farmer to Farmer’ Pilot Project.

This project focused on a series of workshops

on farming, stress, and depression and

targeted male farmers and their families, as

well as agricultural service providers. The

Pilot Project was a great success, and

demonstrated a need for on-going education

around managing stress on the farm.

The Manitoba Farm & Rural Support

Services applied to Brandon and Area

United Way a second time, to expand upon

the success of the Pilot Project. The ‘Farmer

to Farmer 2’ project began in January, 2011.

This project provided workshops on farm

stress and stress management, targeting both

farmers and their families, and agricultural

service providers in the Westman area. The

intent of the project was to increase awareness

on signs and symptoms of stress, how

to manage stress, and how to connect farm

families to community mental health


Research has shown that farmers tend to

have higher-than-average levels of stress and

lower-than-average help-seeking behaviours.

The “National Stress and Mental survey of

Canadian Farmers” study commissioned by

the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association

in 2005 revealed that almost two-thirds of

Canadian farmers were feeling stressed on

the farm. Despite these high levels of stress,

only 2 in 10 farmers had spoken to a health

care professional about their mental health.

Given the many challenges faced by

Manitoban producers (BSE, poor crop conditions,

excess water, and low commodity

prices to name a few) over the past years, it

is reasonable to expect that stress levels are at

an all-time high. It was felt that a mental

health promotion project, led by farmers for

farmers would help to break down stigma

and encourage farmers to reach out for help

if needed.


Farmer-to-Farmer 2’ Project (cont.)

Farmer to Farmer 2 was coordinated by the

Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services

and workshops were co-facilitated by Gerry

Friesen (a retired farmer and owner of

Signature Mediation Services) and Dr. Greg

Gibson, clinical psychologist with the

Brandon Regional Health Authority.

The specific Project Objectives as outlined to the

United Way were as follows:

1. Increase awareness among producers about the

signs of stress, depression and suicide;

2. Increase awareness about ways to reduce stress and

achieve mental health while reducing stigma surrounding

seeking help for mental health;

3. Educate agricultural service providers (government

workers, financial lenders/advisers, equipment

dealers and other agricultural services salespeople)

on signs of stress and how to connect farmers with

helping resources;

A total of 6 farmer workshops were held.

The 3 R’s of Stress Management (hosted

twice); Anger Mountain; Handling Farm

Financial Stress; Around the Kitchen Table;

and Work-Life Balance on the Farm.

In addition to the producer workshops there

was also a workshop held for agricultural

lenders and farm financial advisers. The

project coordinator also had the opportunity

to present 4 condensed versions of the workshops

to smaller groups and individuals.

The Manitoba Farm and Rural Support

Services is very grateful to the Brandon and

District United way for its generous funding

of the Farmer to Farmer 2 project, and to

the Brandon Regional Health Authority

(and in particular, Dr. Greg Gibson) for

their support in the design and delivery of

the workshops.

4. Increase knowledge of community mental health


5. Increase mental health help-seeking behaviours

among farmers and ranchers;

6. Promote healthy coping strategies (including the

building of support networks) in the target group.


MFRSS statistics 2011

2011 was another busy year for the

MFRSS. Call volume was 2,223 calls,

which is consistent with previous years.

We continue to hear from both agricultural

producers and rural and northern callers

who are struggling with a variety of issues

including: financial difficulties, interpersonal

stress, mental health, addictions and the

personal, business and family stress that

goes along with money worries. Other ‘farm

call’ issues included stress related to uncertain

weather conditions, poor crops, markets,

and government policies. Our clients

also include rural and northern Manitobans

from across the province on issues related to

domestic violence, mental health, addictions,

relationships, and other personal and

community challenges. Our counsellors are

here to listen, offer support, and assist

callers to find ways of coping with and/or

resolving their difficulties.

One of the major challenges facing

Manitoba in 2011 was the “Flood Of The

Century”. The MFRSS was commissioned

by Manitoba Health to provide call-outs to

flood-affected evacuees in the Lake

Manitoba area during the summer. Staff

and volunteers placed over 250 calls to

farmers, cottage owners and others who had

lost property, belongings, income, and in

some cases a whole way of life due to the

high water levels.

Our counsellors found that the vast majority

of the flood-affected clients were very

receptive to the call, and thankful for the

support and information we could provide.

Our experience in providing “psychological

first aid” will serve our team well if and

when we are faced with similar disasters in

the future.

Many other producers were affected by

excess water and overland flooding, preventing

them from seeding a crop and/or

obtaining anticipated yields. This caused

huge amounts of stress, and our staff were

able to provide support, information, and

referrals as needed.

One of the main services provided by the

Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Services is

Outreach and Education. In 2011 we participated

in numerous trade shows and

health fairs, and facilitated 12 workshops

on topics related to stress management. It is

estimated that we reached over 15,000

Manitobans through these various outreach


One example of MFRSS outreach was a

series of workshops delivered to support

staff at the MASC offices in Portage la

Prairie who were administering flood recovery

financial programs. We assisted these

staff members to recognize signs of stress in

their clients, and how to offer assistance

and effective referrals to clients in crisis.


MFRSS statistics 2011 (continued)

total yearly call volume 2001-2011 = 19,815

calls 2175 2223 2223


1857 2115 2187 2444




1000 863

500 481

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

ages of callers: 2011

total: 2223

0 4 31 64 1047 810 95 172

0-12 13-17 18-26 27-35 36-50 51-64 65+ Unknown

total calls per region: 2011

Assiniboine: 66

Brandon: 19

Burntwood: 384

Central: 73

Churchill: 0

Interlake: 365

North Eastman: 10

Norman: 2

Parkland: 584

South Eastman: 20

Winnipeg: 592

Unknown: 93

Out of Province: 3

Out of country: 12




total: 2223









calls and gender: 2011..

Transgender: 1

Unknown: 1

monthly breakdown for 2011




176 155 230 167 213 249 351 158 128 121 131 144


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



Farm calls only and gender: 2011..

Total: 127



The following is a synopsis of calls and

other client contacts in 2011:

Ages of callers

Our call volumes remain consistently domiated

by callers in the 36-50 and 51-64 age



The majority of calls came from the

Parkland and Winnipeg RHAs this year,

due largely to several frequent callers. This

was followed by Burtwood and Interlake


Website visits

We redesigned and renamed our web site

this year. With that move, we also altered

our collection of data to reflect ‘page views’

rather than ‘hits’ to the web site. Using this

method, our new website had 8,439 page

views in 2011.

Community Outreach

The MFRSS set up displays at 19 community

and agricultural events in 2011. We

also made 12 presentations on stress management

related topics. Participants at these

events and presentations totalled approximately

15,000. We participated in 13

media interviews.


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