“Mental health in agriculture is often overlooked,” says Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “There is a stigma attached to stress and mental health issues which people often don’t want to talk about.”
That’s why Kettler didn’t hesitate when USDA offered a grant program. ISDA received a $500,000 grant to explore mental health issues and provide training statewide. The result is the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives initiative now underway.
“We’ve been searching for ways to help people in agriculture struggling with stress, and this gives us a chance to get started,” Kettler says.
Kettler outlines the basics of the program and how you can participate.
Who is participating in offering these programs? ISDA partnered with the Indiana Rural Health Association, made up of many health care partners around the state, so that we could deliver content and training on identifying someone with stress and dealing with it. The Indiana AgriInstitute is also assisting with meeting planning. Purdue University Extension already has a Farm Stress Team, and Purdue Extension is playing a role in the project.
What is the part of the project farmers and farm families can participate in? There will be 23 meetings held across Indiana from now through July. They are designed for farmers and farm families to attend. Each meeting also includes training provided by IRHA members on recognizing the signs of mental stress, and then working with a person under stress. We hope to connect people needing assistance due to mental stress with resources which are available.
What is Purdue’s role in the project? Purdue Extension staff will continue promoting mental health awareness through as many communication mediums as possible. In addition, Extension will work with and audit existing rural call centers to determine what they need to be better equipped to work with farm and agriculture people who develop mental stress. The goal is to also develop training tools to help call center personnel become better equipped to deal with clientele.
Where does this effort go after the series of meetings? That will be the extent of what we’re able to do with grant funding. We hope discussion will continue around these issues, and we can begin to remove the stigma about talking about mental health issues in agriculture.
Where can people learn more about the meetings and the project? Start at the ISDA website. Information on Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives is front and center. The meetings are free, but you need to register. Registration is limited to 35 at each site to facilitate better interaction. Sign up for a meeting near you by visiting indianaruralhealth.org/events.
Meetings in March and April include:
- March 9, Greenfield
- March 10, Tipton
- March 16, Leesburg
- March 17, Rochester
- April 6, LaPorte
- April 8, Rensselaer
- April 20, Wolcott
- April 21, Williamsport
Meetings scheduled for May, June and July are:
- May 4, Crawfordsville
- May 5, Whiteland
- May 18, Greencastle
- May 19, Sullivan
- May 20, Mount Vernon
- June 8, Washington
- June 9, Ferdinand
- June 22, Salem
- June 23, Scottsburg
- July 6, Osgood
- July 7, Winchester
- July 20, Huntington
- July 21, Auburn