Mental health first aid course to be held Saturday

Nov. 2—NY FarmNet will hold a free mental health first aid course Saturday, Nov. 4, at Col. Harper Grange in Harpersfield.

Adam Howell, outreach director at NY FarmNet, said his organization is working with the Col. Harper Grange, at 170 Wilcox Road, to host Saturday's workshop, which will last from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students will earn certification from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing at the end of the course. Laurie Bedford, who is a member of the grange, is also a financial consultant at NY FarmNet. Lunch will be provided by grange members.

The class will provide community members with training on how to assist someone in mental health crisis, which is of critical importance for rural/agricultural communities where professional mental health care may not be close by, a media release said. Attendees will be certified by the national mental health first aid organization after their participation in the training. According to the NY FarmNet website, the course will teach students the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations and where to turn for help.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmers are nearly two times more likely to die by suicide in the U.S., compared to other occupations, the release said. In addition, Morning Consult, a business intelligence company that conducts market research, has reported about half of rural adults think the media (56%) and people in their local community (48%) attach at least a fair amount of stigma to seeking treatment or help for mental health; three in four rural adults say it is important to reduce stigma about mental health in the agriculture community and three in four farmers say it would be easy for them to obtain opioids.

The opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have "exasperated the problems of the mental health crisis in rural areas," Howell said. "In combination, resources are not readily available in rural areas for crisis support."

Howell said NY FarmNet received a grant to offer the free mental health class and encouraged anyone who is interested in becoming certified to take the course as the goal is to train community members to be the first contact for others in crisis. "You don't have to be a farmer to take this course," he said. "Agriculture is intertwined in the rural community. So many people know people in agriculture."

For more information, or to register, visit,

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.