Rural and farm women face the same day-to-day pressures and stress as those who live in urban areas, but they also face unique challenges when it comes to staying well mentally.
For one, there are fewer services and supports available to those who juggle not just dual but triple roles of family, work and a farm to manage.
And rural life can be lonely if you’re not well connected to others.
“One of the biggest issues for women is the pervasive sense of isolation if they don’t intentionally work on healthy connections, says Elaine Froese, a renowned farm family coach, author of several books and columnist for Grainews.
“And that’s regardless of how far you live from town, or if you live in town.”
Froese will be one of the keynote speakers during two events next month that will bring together a wide range of expertise in health and wellness with a focus on support for rural women.
This is a second year for Manitoba Rural Women’s Day scheduled for two Saturdays including October 14 in Minnedosa and October 28 in Komarno.
The event is being hosted by the Women’s Institute as a day to connect rural women for learning and resource sharing with sessions focused on mental health and wellness around the theme ‘A Healthy Mind is a Treasure to Find.’
“The intention is to give women an opportunity to get together and learn and share ideas that are of common concern to most rural women,” said Deb Melosky, chair of the planning committee with MWI and resident of Woodmore, Man.
Their roster of speakers are almost all women who also live rurally and therefore understand very well what rural women face when it comes to keeping in good mental health, said Melosky.
Froese, widely known for her work helping farm families develop farm succession plans and her writing on how to establish and maintain healthy relationships, is well acquainted with issues that also impact rural people’s mental health.
Her presentation will be a message about living an intentional healthy life and realizing we choose our thoughts, emotions and set intentions for our days, she said.
Women often will continuously add to their responsibilities not realizing the toll that takes on their mental health. The result can be much stress, anxiety and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed, said Froese.
“But it can be managed if you pay attention to the decisions that you’re making.”
It’s also important to connect with the resources that are available to you in your region, she added.
Other speakers at both events will include Vicki Olatundun, executive director at the Steinbach Family Resource Centre, and Keith McPherson, a wellness coach and yoga instructor.
The two days also feature ‘fireside chat’ speakers with Minnnedosa’s lineup including Roberta Graham, a therapist and associate professor in psychiatric nursing at Brandon University, Deborah Tacan, a prevention education consultant with the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and Nora Chant, peer support facilitator at the Brandon-based 7th Street Health Access Centre. In Komarno Cheryl Cohan, a therapist with a specialization in horticultural therapy, Carole Teatrault, owner of a healing retreat near Steinbach, and Judy Dunn, outreach manager for the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba will be speaking.
This year’s theme was selected after input through evaluations from last year’s Manitoba Rural Women’s Day, Melosky said. Focus groups the MWI has done also reveal the dearth of services available for mental health care rurally.
“We often don’t realize what others are going through,” she said.
Last year’s inaugural Rural Women’s Day was a resounding success so MWI is now making it a yearly annual event, she added.
“We think this is a good way to get women together.”
The two days are being held October 14 in Minnedosa at the Community Conference Centre at 63 Main Street North and October 28 in Komarno’s Community Hall. Those wishing to attend are asked to register in advance.
More information about Manitoba Rural Women’s Day is found at www.mbwi.ca or contact the Manitoba Women’s Institute and leave a message at 204-726-7135.