Sask. hopes to help farmers monitor mental health

Innovation Saskatchewan wants to find a way to help farmers monitor their mental health.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor, minister responsible, said the challenge is intended to address concerns that have arisen after calls to the Saskatchewan farm stress line in 2018-19 doubled from the previous year.

“Mental health is a concern within every industry but particularly acute in agriculture,” she said in a news release. “Our government believes technology can provide help to farm families dealing with this complex and demanding issue.”

The organization has previously worked on technology tools to combat rural crime, allow hunters and others to get permission to be on land and track waste ending up in landfills.

Agriculture Minister David Marit said farmers usually work in isolated environments and that, combined with so many uncontrollable variables, can take a toll on mental health.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative ideas that come from this process,” he said.

The latest Innovation Challenge launched March 5. It asks for expressions of interest from Saskatchewan-based companies and entrepreneurs on how technology can help monitor mental health. The solution could be a mobile phone app, website program, artificial intelligence interface or offline sensor linking to the internet, the government said.

Submissions must be in by April 30. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to pitch their ideas and winners will receive $10,000 in funding and a 16-week collaboration with government to help develop the concept.

Public information sessions were held March 17 in Saskatoon and March 19 in Regina, and online March 24.

For more information, check the website innovationsask.ca.

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