Indiana Going to Bat to Battle Mental Health in Rural Communities

Indiana is getting to work to help provide education resources to those who live in rural and farming communities where depression, suicide and other mental health struggles are so prevalent.

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, AgrIInstitute, and the Indiana Rural Health Association are together promoting 23 upcoming workshops called Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives. The workshops will dot Indiana this month through July.

“Our involvement really is on the education side to help provide quality training programs for individuals to become more aware of the importance of paying attention to mental health concerns and needs and to become hopefully a little more knowledgeable about what kind of resources are available,” says Beth Archer with AgrIInstitute. “By that I’m specifically talking about the increased opportunities for telehealth and tele-behavioral services to be provided or accessible to individuals who live in rural communities in areas where those resources are not as readily available and affordable to access.”

The workshops will also provide Question, Persuade, and Refer, or QPR training.

“Just to give people tools and resources to better understand how to help individuals who are facing mental stressors and, we hope not, but perhaps even considering suicide. We want to help people help those who might be in those kind of situations,” she told HAT.

Archer says they really want to work with rural communities to reduce the stigma associated with mental health concerns.

“We want to help people understand that our physical health and our mental health are directly related to one another, and we often will help individuals get and be comfortable talking about their physical health needs that they have,” Archer explained. “Mental health needs are not the conversation a lot of us like to have it yet it’s very, very important. So, we want to help raise some level of awareness and helped raise some level of comfort that it’s okay to talk about our needs with respect to our mental health, and to find ways to help people get the services that they need to address those issues or those concerns.”

Registration is open now for the free February Workshops scheduled for Posey County February 10th, Owen County February 23rd, and Boone County February 24th. Although they are free, you must be registered. Each workshop starts with 9:00 a.m. registration and then the program from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and lunch is included. Seating is limited to 35.

*February 10, 2022 – Posey County at CountryMark Pavilion, 6855 Lower Harmony Road, Mt. Vernon, IN

*February 23, 2022 – Owen County at Canyon Inn McCormick’s Creek State Park, 6451 McCormick Creek Park Rd, Spencer, IN

*February 24, 2022 – Boone Co. Fairgrounds Farm Bureau Bldg, 1300 E 100 S, Lebanon, IN

The Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives team is proud to welcome state and local professionals to present on various topics that impact the mental health of rural Hoosiers. Speakers will highlight the challenges involved with mental health issues and resources available in the community to help support those in need, including a special session on Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) training.

The full workshop schedule is here:

The workshops are planned as in-person events, and local Covid protocol practices will be followed. Should there be a schedule adjustment, registrants will be notified of changes.

For additional information about these workshops, please contact Kathy Walker, Program Director, or Beth Archer, Executive Director, AgrIInstitute,

Funding for Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives was made possible by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture through a USDA grant.

“Our rural communities are the backbone of our Indiana economy, and we can make them even stronger by supporting mental health and reducing stressors at home and in our communities,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture. “These workshops will give our farmers the resources to help their neighbors and their family members who may be struggling.”

The free workshops through the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives program are open to the farming community, including agribusinesses and related service industries, the faith community, local leaders and families.

AgrIInstitute is a subcontractor on the project for Indiana Rural Health Association.

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