Helping Friends in Need: Women in Conservation Announces Mental Health Support Trainings | Dunn County News

Women farmers and landowners wear many hats and juggle various responsibilities, often providing key emotional support to family and community members. For many, the holiday season has an additional impact on mental health, as do the winter months. Starting in January, Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) will partner with Farm Well Wisconsin to offer two-hour virtual regional trainings to help women learn to recognize someone in need and respond intentionally and effectively. , without putting their own mental health at risk.

“Mental health is a subject that touches everyone. For better or worse, women often take on the role of emotional support to their families and their extended networks, acting as counselors, confidants and mediators, ”says Chris Frakes, director of Farm Well Wisconsin. “It’s essential to acquire the skills to fulfill these roles more effectively and to learn to set boundaries that protect your own well-being. “

A recent survey released by the American Farm Bureau Federation suggests that a majority of rural adults (52%) and farmer / farm workers (61%) experience more stress and mental health issues than there are. a year. Young rural adults are more likely than older rural adults to say they experience more stress and mental health problems than a year ago, and they are more likely to say that they have personally seen a doctor. mental health professional.

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Farm Well Wisconsin works in southwestern Wisconsin to develop and deliver resources that support the health and well-being of farmers, farm workers, and their families. The group believes that cultivating well depends on taking care of our body, mind, emotions and relationships. Rural communities lack enough mental health professionals to meet needs, especially during times like the pandemic and difficult economic downturns. “Ordinary people can help fill the void,” says Frakes.

Course participants will explore the COMET Method, which stands for Changing Our Mental and Emotional Trajectory. This program aims to change the trajectory of a person in a vulnerable space, and moves towards the crisis, towards a place of well-being. The workshops, jointly led by the FarmWell and WiWiC facilitators, will take the form of a ‘learning circle’, encouraging interaction among participants. They will train themselves to be a person who says or does something to offer support, care or referral and bring about positive change.

“Mutual assistance between neighbors is a deeply rooted rural value. We don’t hesitate to help our neighbors when they are affected by a fire in a house, but when we notice that a neighbor is struggling with stress or depression, we are sometimes uncertain, ”says Frakes. “COMET believes in the power of everyday interactions. By learning a simple and effective strategy for interacting with people under stress, we can make a difference.

Wisconsin Women in Conservation is a statewide 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 Service (MOSES). A multi-faceted three-year project funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), WiWiC brings together women landowners in Wisconsin to connect and learn about conservation practices, resources and funding opportunities. .

WiWiC team members reached out to Farm Well Wisconsin to lead the workshops after realizing the need for mental health resources while also facilitating their own conservation education events in 2021.

“As a farmer myself, secluded in the countryside with my house filled with children, housework and daily challenges, I really enjoyed the WiWiC events with other women, sitting in our circles. learning openly sharing our triumphs and struggles, ”said WiWiC West Central Region Coordinator Sara George. “But listening to women share their challenges so openly made me realize that this space opens up vulnerabilities that we should be prepared to monitor and somehow address. And therefore, at WiWiC, we do our best in providing support to women in matters of mental health. We train our team and participants on what to look for and what to say. We provide a safe place for conversations which can be very difficult. We are there to support other women, to listen to them and allow them to be heard.

COMET training participants will come away from the workshop with a set of concrete and actionable skills that will increase their confidence to reach out to friends, family members and acquaintances who find themselves in a vulnerable space. Through lively discussion and one-on-one role play, participants learn to make room for someone in difficulty and put aside their worry that they need to know all the answers or how to ‘fix it. The other person’s problem.

The trainings are organized by region to facilitate the community between neighbors, but are welcome for all women farmers, landowners and environmentalists. Space is limited and events are not recorded to encourage story sharing among attendees. Registration is FREE but required to get the Zoom link. More information and registration on

Marathon, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, Outagamie and Brown counties

  • COMET North-West training,

Land of Polk, Barron and Dunn

  • COMET Center-Ouest training,

Pierce, Pepin and Buffalo Country

  • COMET Sud-Ouest training, March 3, 10 am-12pm

Vernon, Crawford and Grant

  • COMET South-East training,

Walworth, Racine and Milwau-