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Mobile app helps farmers monitor mental health


January 29, 2021
By Innovation Saskatchewan

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Following a recent province-wide Innovation Challenge, Innovation Saskatchewan – in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture – has unveiled a new tool for agricultural producers to track their mental health.

The mobile app, Avail, was developed by Saskatoon-based Bridges Health and offers producers a confidential system for actively recording and analyzing their mental health, accessing online resources such as articles and videos, and finding and accessing care providers in their communities.  The app encourages regular check-ins and allows producers and their care providers to find patterns in the data they log.

“Mental health in the agriculture industry is a priority for the Government of Saskatchewan, and we know farmers and ranchers face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health services,” Innovation Saskatchewan Minister Jeremy Harrison said.  “Avail helps address many of those concerns, and provides a made-in-Saskatchewan solution for producers looking for support in tracking their mental health.”

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Calls to the Farm Stress Line show producers are looking for resources to maintain their mental health.  In 2019-20, the toll-free line received more than 1,000 calls.

“Producers face a number of factors that are out of their control, many of which can have a negative impact on mental health,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said.  “This tool allows producers to take an active role in monitoring their mental health and accessing supports.”

As winners of the 2020 Innovation Challenge, Bridges Health received $10,000, as well as a 16-week residency to develop Avail.  They presented Avail to government and industry offices during a digital presentation this week.

“As a company founded and based in Saskatchewan, the agriculture sector touches both our business and our families,” Bridges Health Vice President Leon Ferguson said.  “We are honoured to have this opportunity to work with government and partners to develop and advance this mental health and overall wellness tool.”

Avail can be downloaded in the Apple or Android app stores, or accessed online at the Avail App website..

Innovation Challenges encourage Saskatchewan-based tech companies to find innovative answers to issues facing the public.  Previous projects introduced tech responses to rural crime, online permissions for hunting and fishing on private land and tracking landfill waste.