The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is partnering with a number of other organizations, including the University of Minnesota Extension, to offer free three-hour workshops to help agricultural advisers and others who work with farmers to recognize and respond when they suspect a farmer or farm family member might need mental health help. The workshops will be held early next year.
Stress factors are on the rise for Minnesota farmers. Many face financial problems, price and marketing uncertainties, farm transfer issues, production challenges and more. Ag advisers and other who work with farmers may know of clients and friends who are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, feelings of indecision or suicidal thoughts.
Those encouraged to attend the workshops include anyone who interacts with farmers on a regular basis —county, state and federal agency staff, veterinarians, bankers, crop consultants, clergy, farm organization staff and board members, social service workers, nurses and other medical professionals, farm management and high school ag instructors, Extension staff and others.
Workshop attendees will learn:
• How to recognize the signs of mental and emotional distress and crisis
• Active listening skills
• What local and regional resources are available to farmers in distress or crisis
• How to improve confidence about delivering difficult information to farmers
• When to use anger de-escalation strategies, if necessary
• The importance of taking care of your own emotional and mental health in stressful situations
Presenters at the workshops will be:
• Ted Matthews, director of Mental Health Outreach. Matthews works exclusively with farmers and farm families statewide.
• Randy Willis, deputy director for professional development, Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association
• Michelle Page, executive officer, USDA Farm Service Agency
• Meg Moynihan, senior adviser, MDA
Here are the locations and dates in Minnesota.
Willmar: Jan. 30, Ridgewater College, Room A–240, Building A
Marshall: Jan. 31, Southwest Minnesota State University, Lower Ballroom
Austin: Feb. 21, Riverland College, West A237/A240
North Mankato: Feb. 22, South Central College, Heritage Hall
Grand Rapids: March 14, Itasca Community College, Room 015, Backus Student Center
Thief River Falls: March 15, Northland Community & Technical College, Assembly Room 203. Choose 9 a.m. to noon or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
To register, visit eventbrite.com/e/down-on-the-farm. Sessions are limited to 50 participants.
The workshops are free, thanks to underwriting support.
For more information, call 651-201-6012 or visit MDA's Down on the Farm: Supporting Farmers in Stressful Times.