The more you know about mental health, the better equipped you are to make a positive impact on your community. Educating yourself on mental health helps you care for your emotional wellbeing and recognize when you need to seek support. Mental health awareness is especially important in rural areas, where these issues often aren’t discussed enough or go unnoticed entirely.
The first step to increasing awareness and education surrounding mental health in your rural community is to improve your mental health literacy. Mental health literacy refers to the level of understanding that people have about mental wellness. When someone has good mental health literacy, they are knowledgeable about mental illness. They also have tools to manage their own mental health and take steps to reduce the stigma around mental illness. Some examples of good mental health literacy are:
- Understanding the symptoms and causes of different mental disorders and how they are treated.
- Having accurate beliefs about the effectiveness of treatments and seeking professional help. (Someone with good mental health literacy may encourage others to seek support from a therapist or doctor and reach out for support themselves, rather than hesitating to ask for help because of stigma.)
- Making an effort to educate yourself about mental health and apply the strategies you learn in your own life.
By improving collective mental health literacy, rural communities can become more resilient and better able to support themselves and their peers.
Mental Health Literacy in Rural Areas
Mental health literacy training has been proven to be effective for farming communities in rural Canada. More specifically, farmers who complete this training are more likely to seek support when they need it, and they feel more knowledgeable about mental health in general. In addition, they feel more comfortable talking about mental health with those in their community and providing support for others. They are also more confident in their ability to identify when others are struggling with their mental health. In general, mental health literacy training empowers farmers to become more involved and start conversations about mental health in their community, which helps reduce stigma.
Self-reflection is a key component of building mental health literacy. You can start by thinking about your own beliefs about mental health and how you formed them in the first place. How have your experiences or the opinions of your friends and family shaped your views on mental illness? Do you hold any negative beliefs about specific mental illnesses that you could benefit from learning more about? This can help you choose which topics to start with as you seek out information. Signing up for workshops and training programs or making use of free online resources are both easy ways to improve your knowledge of mental health.
Rural Mental Health Programs for Your Community
In The Know is a free rural mental health literacy program created specifically for Canadian farmers and their families. This four-hour workshop, run by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), will educate members of your community on mental illness and facilitate further discussion about mental health. Click here to learn more about In the Know and schedule a workshop!
Stigma-Free Society also offers peer support training for those in rural communities – stay tuned for details on our next 2-day training! Our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit is full of tools that help improve mental health literacy in rural areas. We offer inspiring stories and a wealth of resources tailored for youth, seniors, families, and more.