Utah State University Extension recently partnered with 13 states on the Western Region Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Grant. The university received money to create pilot programs that focus on mental health for rural Utah.
Farming or ranching is not a stable job. The hours are long, the market is ever changing, and the work isn’t guaranteed to pay off. The Ranch Stress Assistance Network Grant seeks to provide these farmers and ranchers with education on mental health issues, so they know its ok to not be ok.
Tasha Killian with USU Extension, is the principal investigator for Utah State’s participation in the grant. With these funds, Killian said USU will create two outreach programs to help farmers and ranchers battling mental health in rural Utah.
“One will be mental health awareness and advocacy, which really just goes over signs, symptoms, how to recognize those within a person, and then how to advocate for that person," said Killian. "And then then the second one is based off of principles of acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which teaches skills within a person to be able to acknowledge, recognize, and then cope with what is going on around them.”
When compared to urban areas, rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to mental health education. While it can be easier for people in urban areas to open up and ask for help, this is not the case in rural areas.
“There is also a Farm Aid hotline, which does exist, and the hours of that one are just east coast hours. And so, it's limited hours at this time, we're hoping within the next couple months, we'll be able to fill those in extended hours to the west coast to be able to get those times,” said Killian.
Extension has partnered with the Center for Persons with Disabilities and the Human Development and Family Services Department on USU’s campus to help build these programs.