farming and ranching metro photo

Farming and ranching is one of the most stressful occupations in the nation.

Farming and ranching is one of the most stressful occupations in the nation in any given year, but that was particularly true this year for North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, who faced not only drought, but supply chain issues and market uncertainties as well.

A series of free mental health first aid classes are planned to help those who are among primary contacts for agricultural producers with skills necessary to provide mental health support to those around them who may be experiencing a crisis.

Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based program that will help you understand and identify the signs of common mental health concerns, ranging from depression and substance misuse to suicidal thinking. You will also learn appropriate responses as well, including listening, giving support, and making referrals.

Kelly Leo, Williams County Extension Agent, said the training offers great tools for the agricultural community to help those around them.

“In these difficult times of financial hardship, drought stress, inflated prices, and economic uncertainty, it is important that we all support those individuals who work tirelessly to provide for us, our agricultural producers,” she said. “(Those who are) the initial trusted contacts for ag producers will often need to lend an understanding and sympathetic ear. This training will allow you to build the skills necessary to assist with providing that support.”

The training is free, thanks to a North Data Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance grant. Classes will be offered in three different communities, starting with Beulah from 9;30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 8.

Williston is next from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Ernie French Conference Room at the Williston Research Extension Center, 14120 Highway 2.

The final training date is in Watford City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov 10 at the McKenzie County Extension Office, 205 Sixth Street NW in Watford City.

Questions about the training may be directed to sean.bortherson@ndsu.edu or 701-231-6143.

Seating is limited. To register, sign up at https://myfirstlink.org/events and click the provided link for the training session you want to attend.

Each of these six-hour training courses will be held in person, with two hours of self-study prior to the class, for a total of eight hours. The limit is 30 individuals per session, and continuing education units are available.

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