Helping Friends in Need: Wisconsin Women in Conservation Announces Mental Health Support Trainings To Begin January 20 Chippewa Falls, WI – Women farmers and land owners wear multiple hats and …
Helping Friends in Need: Wisconsin Women in Conservation Announces Mental Health Support Trainings To Begin January 20
Chippewa Falls, WI – Women farmers and land owners wear multiple hats and juggle various re- sponsibilities, often providing key emotional sup – port to family and community members. For many, the holiday season takes an extra toll on mental health, as do the winter months. Starting in January, Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) will partner with Farm Well Wisconsin to provide twohour virtual regional trainings to help women learn to recognize someone in need and respond inten- tionally and effectively, without putting their own mental health at risk.
"Mental health is a topic that impacts everyone. For better or worse, women often take on the role of providing emotional support for their families and extended networks – acting as counselors, confi – dants, and mediators," says Chris Frakes, director of Farm Well Wisconsin. "It is vital to learn the skills needed to carry out those roles more effectively and to learn how to set boundaries that protect your own wellbeing." A recently-released poll from American Farm Bureau Federation suggests that a majority of rural adults (52%) and farmers/farm workers (61%) are experiencing more stress and mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Younger rural adults are more likely than older rural adults to say they are experiencing more stress and mental health challenges than a year ago, and they are more likely to say they have personally sought care from a mental health professional.
FarmWell Wisconsin works in Southwestern Wisconsin to develop and offer resources that sup- port the health and wellbeing of farmers, farm – workers, and their families. The group believes that farming well depends on taking care of our bodies, minds, emotions, and relationships. Rural com munities lack enough mental health professionals to meet the need, especially during times like the pandemic and tough economic downturns. “Ordi- nary people can help fill the gap," says Frakes. Par – ticipants in the trainings will explore the COMET method, which stands for Changing Our Mental and Emotional Trajectory. This program aims to change the trajectory of someone in a vulnerable space, and headed towards crisis, back towards a place of well – ness. The workshops, led jointly by FarmWell and WiWiC facilitators, will be in a "Learning Circle" format, encouraging peer-to-peer interaction among participants. They will practice being a person who says or does something to offer support, care, or a referral and causes a positive change.
"Neighbors helping neighbors is a deep-seated rural value. We do not hesitate to assist our neigh- bors when they are impacted by a house fire, but when we notice that a neighbor is struggling with stress or depression, sometimes we are unsure," says Frakes. "COMET believes in the power of ev – eryday interactions. By learning a simple, effective strategy for engaging with people who are stressed, we can make a difference." Wisconsin Women in Conservation is a state- wide collaborative effort led by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in partnership with Wisconsin Farmers Union, Renewing the Countryside and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Ser – vice (MOSES). A three-year multi-faceted project funded by the USDA's Natural Resources Conser TRAINING
From Page 2
vation Service (NRCS), WiWiC brings together Wisconsin wom en landowners to connect and learn about conservation practic- es, resources, and funding opportunities. WiWiC team members reached out to Farm Well Wisconsin to lead the workshops after becoming aware of the need for mental health resources while facilitating their own conservation education events in 2021.
"As a farmer myself, isolated in the country with my houseful of kids, chores and day-to-day challenges, I have really enjoyed the WiWiC events with other women, sitting in our Learning Cir – cles openly sharing our triumphs and our struggles," said WiWiC West Central Region Coordinator Sara George. "But listening to women sharing their challenges so openly made me realize that this space opens vulnerabilities that we should be prepared to watch for and address in some way. And therefore, we at WiWiC are doing the best thing possible by providing support to women around mental health. We are training our team and our participants on what to look for and what to say. We are providing a safe place for conversations that may be very difficult. We are here to support other women, to listen and allow them to be heard." COMET training attendees will come away from the work – shop with a concrete, actionable set of skills that will increase their confidence in reaching out to friends, family members, and acquaintances who are in a vulnerable space. Through robust dis- cussion, and one-on-one role play, attendees learn how to hold space for someone who is struggling, and to set aside their con – cern that they must know all the answers or how to "fix" the other person's problem. The trainings are organized by region to facili – tate community among neighbors, but are welcome to all women farmers, landowners, and conservationists. Space is limited and events are not recorded to encourage story-sharing among par- ticipants. Registration is FREE but necessary to obtain the Zoom link. More information and registration is at WiWiC.org. West Central COMET Training, Feb. 3, 10am-noon Pierce, Pepin and Buffalo Counties Northwest COMET Training, Feb. 17, 10am-noon Polk, Barron, and Dunn Counties