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Sask. psychologist using livestock to help treat youth mental health

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A Saskatchewan woman is taking a unique approach to helping children and young adults deal with mental health issues, incorporating livestock into her practice. Katelyn Wilson reports – Nov 23, 2018

A Saskatchewan woman is taking a unique approach to helping children and young adults deal with mental health issues, incorporating livestock into her practice.

READ MORE: Burning of the Brand kicks off Canada’s largest livestock show in Regina

Kali Eddy lives and works on her ranch just outside of Lumsden, Sask. and says she’s one of the only registered psychologists in the province using animal assisted therapy to help treat anxiety, depression and other mental health issues in children and youth.

“Really it’s just a technique that I use in addition to traditional therapies,” Eddy said. “A lot of times in a traditional therapy setting you’re sitting with a psychologist talking and looking at them in the eye and sometimes this helps reduce some of that pressure if a client is petting an animal or interacting with an animal it takes some of that pressure.”

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This week Eddy has a display set up at the Canadian Western Agribition, featuring several of her animals including pot belly pigs, donkeys and cows.

“We’re here at Agribition just to promote mental health and awareness and get the conversation started and make it part of our every day language,” Eddy said.

She also has signs posted above each pen with statistics from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, highlighting the importance of her work.

“Ten to 20 per cent of youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder and I think those statistics are probably even higher because the number of youth who come to us who are diagnosed and struggling,” Eddy said.

READ MORE: Record-setting year for Canadian Western Agribition

After working as a registered psychologist for the Prairie Valley School Division for a number of years, Eddy made the shift to include animal assisted therapy in her practice.

“It was a perfect mix of me being able to incorporate the animals that I love and that I know really well and to be able to help people,” Eddy said.

Her display can be seen on Saturday, November 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Ag-Ex Pavilion at Agribition.

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“We really wanted to really bring in a tactile version of what mental health can look like,” Agribition CEO Chris Lane said.”They do great work with kids and livestock therapy they’re seeing a lot of progress and success with that.”

READ MORE: Farmers team up to put mental illness stigma out to pasture

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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