The Gleaner
Agriculture

Local UPA demands bilingual mental health services for producers

The Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA) says mental health resources should be available for all producers, no matter which language they speak.

During the local syndicate’s semi-annual general assembly on February 15, the members unanimously passed a resolution calling for access to psychological health services to be made available in English.

The resolution notes that both the UPA and the non-profit organization Au Coeur des familles agricoles (ACFA) are currently promoting mental health support services, including the “Bonjour, comment ça va?” text message campaign that was launched in February to encourage producers to take a few seconds to reflect on their own mental state as well as those around them.

The resolution also points out that the use of mental health services is normally associated with difficult and emotionally charged times, making it all the more important for English-speaking agricultural producers to have access to these services in English.

The resolution officially requests that ACFA and the regional UPA federation, as well as the national UPA confederation, translate all their information (websites, references, pamphlets, etc.) related to mental health services for farmers.

The resolution also recommends that ACFA and the UPA use their various types of media (newsletters, Quebec Farmer’s Advocate, etc.) to inform English-speaking producers that bilingual services are available.

Catherine Turgeon, the UPA advisor for the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate, says the local union could organize a Sentinel training course in English if enough members were interested. “We would need at least 10 to 12 participants to set up the training,” she explains.

The Sentinel training program was developed by the UPA in collaboration with the Association Québécoise de Prévention du Suicide (AQPS) to prevent suicides within the farming community. A network of sentinels has been established across the province to identify and help at-risk producers. Sentinels are trained to recognize the signs of suicidal behaviour and to help farmers find the appropriate resources to get help.

Those interested in becoming a sentinel should contact Turgeon, who will organize the course if participants come forward. Turgeon can be reached by email at cturgeon@upa.qc.ca.

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