Sask Ag Developing Mental Health App with Resources and Built-In Support

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Sask Ag Developing Mental Health App with Resources and Built-In Support

A new mobile app is under development to help farmers track their mental health and link them with supports, says the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture.

The app is the result of a partnership between Innovation Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Agriculture, and Bridges Health, out of Saskatoon, after being selected out of the province-wide Innovation Challenge this past spring. Technology entrepreneurs were tasked with offering solutions to assist Saskatchewan farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers in monitoring their mental health.

“Despite progress made, there is still a stigma associated with asking for support when it comes to mental health,” says Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, in the press release. “Having access to an app in the privacy of one’s own home will enhance the likelihood of people asking for help when they need it the most.”

During the 2018- 2019 period, Saskatchewan farm stress line calls doubled, and in 2020, new pressure on people in the agriculture sector are being felt due to COVID-19. The app—called ‘Avail’— analyzes user wellness data and offers support in the form of articles, videos and online tips, or more immediate help from a personal support network.

“Saskatchewan producers face unique challenges when it comes to dealing with mental health and we are committed to providing resources and strategies to help support them,” says Agriculture Minister David Marit in the press release. “We know there is a need for solutions like this and I’m looking forward to working with Bridges Health to provide a resource custom-built for the agriculture industry,” says Marit.

Bridges Health will receive $10,000 in funding for the 16-week collaboration with government to develop the mobile app. “As a company founded and based in Saskatchewan, the agriculture sector touches both our business and our families, say Bridges Health vice president Leon Ferguson in the press release. “We are honoured to have this opportunity to work with government and partners to develop and advance this mental health and overall wellness tool.”

Innovation Challenges encourage Saskatchewan-based tech companies to find innovative solutions to issues faced by the public.