To observe National Rural Health Day this week (Nov. 17), Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), along with the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA), are announcing three new mental health initiatives geared towards farmers and those in the agricultural community.
Titled Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives, these initiatives include community workshops, virtual suicide prevention trainings and one-hour sessions for agribusinesses covering mental health stigmas and the resources available to help those in need. Each event is free of charge.
“First, these initiatives will increase basic awareness of existing mental health resources in the agricultural community,” Crouch said. “They will also help identify stressors, reduce the stigma and better recognize mental health needs within the farming industry. And by making them free and open to anyone, I am hopeful that several rural Hoosiers will attend and learn how to help themselves and one another.”
ISDA will be working with the IRHA to help those who live and work in agriculture become more comfortable speaking about mental health care options by holding free, regional community workshops across Indiana. Conversations about mental health stigma and resources, as well as recognizing signs of those in mental health distress, will be discussed.
“Indiana is a very rural state with lots of farming and agricultural bases in many towns and cities. These workshops, agribusiness sessions and suicide prevention trainings will work to provide these communities the tools they need to recognize stress, related mental health issues and mental health crises that unfortunately can lead to suicide attempts,” said Kathy Walker, Program Director, Indiana Rural Heath Association. “It is critically important that we reach our farmers, farm families, agribusinesses and those providing services to the agricultural community.”
Community workshops and online suicide prevention trainings are open to anyone wanting to learn more about mental health in agriculture including, but not limited to, farmers, farming families, agribusinesses, loan officers, religious leaders, rural health care workers and more.
IRHA is currently hosting:
Three regional community workshops:
- December 7 – Ivy Tech, Logansport (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
- January 18 – Community Foundation, Seymour (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
- February 15 – Fireman’s, Warsaw (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
Three virtual online suicide prevention trainings, titled Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR):
- January 4 – Click here
- February 8 – Click here
- March 1 – Click here
One-hour agribusiness-focused sessions include:
- Educational sessions where an agribusiness or organization can host the IRHA to present to their staff, board members or rural community members on mental health services and stigmas surrounding agriculture.
- These sessions can be stand alone services or in conjunction with an already scheduled meeting. To schedule a one-hour educational training for your employees, board members or others, contact Kathy Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A few of these community workshops were held last year, and we are excited to get them up and running again, alongside new programming as well,” said Bruce Kettler, ISDA director. “Agribusiness’ run incredibly important and stressful operations all year long. Hoosiers and millions worldwide wouldn’t eat without their commitment to raising animals and growing crops. I am hopeful these workshops, online trainings and meetings can help reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health and show rural community members that there is help available.”
Cara Veale, CEO of IRHA, is looking forward to the increased community opportunities within the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives programming.
“We at the Indiana Rural Health Association are thrilled to be partnering with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to provide a great program and resource for farmers and farm families. We understand the importance of healthy minds and want to be sure we support our Indiana farmers and their families by educating them about available resources and ways they can ensure positive mental health.”
Last year, the ISDA received a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) Program. A portion of the funding was provided to the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA) to reduce mental health stigma and connect individuals to resources.
To learn more, see additional training opportunities or to register visit indianaruralhealth.org.