By Linda Geist
COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension and partners recently released a Together We Can(opens in new window) toolkit to help rural Missourians access mental health resources.
“This presents the resources to help open up conversations about mental health,” says MU Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. “Making it comfortable to talk about mental health is the first step in a healthy society.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Funkenbusch notes.
Missouri farmers and ranchers and their families face tough challenges in 2020, she says. “Economic uncertainties, changes in commodity prices and ongoing weather issues add to the daily stresses of farming and ranching. Stressors during COVID-19, including social isolation, financial insecurities and other health concerns, can mount.”
Rural Missourians also sometimes encounter barriers to receiving help in a timely manner because mental health services may not be available in all rural counties, Funkenbusch says. Additionally, many farm families lack adequate insurance coverage for mental health services.
“In collaboration with our partners, our toolkit ‘Together We Can’ provides resources and tools to support the mental health and well-being of our farmers, ranchers and their families,” she says.
Throughout May, “Together We Can” will join the national Mental Health Awareness campaign to provide resources designed to be useful to farming and rural communities where they live, work and play.
“With increased pressures on today’s farmers, we want to let farmers know there are ways to fight stigma and provide a safe environment to address mental health concerns of farmers,” Funkenbusch says. “We want to help our rural communities develop and maintain a support system for our farmers.”
For information, go to extension.missouri.edu, contact Funkenbusch at [email protected] or 573-884-1268.