App offers mental health support for ag

A province-wide Innovation Challenge this spring in Saskatchewan has led to an app to help farmers with their mental health.

Bridges Health in Saskatoon was chosen from among technology companies that offered solutions to farmers and ranchers.

The app, called Avail, will link people to supports they need anywhere and any time.

The government noted that calls to the province’s Farm Stress Line doubled in 2018-19 compared to the year before, and COVID-19 is placing new stressors on people.

Avail analyzes data that the user supplies and provides prompts to articles, videos and online tips or more immediate help from a personal support network, the government said.

“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,” said agriculture minister David Marit.

Bridges Health vice-president Leon Ferguson said agriculture touches both the business and the company’s families.

“We are honoured to have this opportunity to work with government and partners to develop and advance this mental health and overall wellness tool,” he said in a news release.

As the challenge winner, Bridges Health receives $10,000 and a 16-week collaboration with government to develop the app.

Previous winners have introduced technological responses to rural crime, online permission for hunting and tracking landfill waste.

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