For the second year, the Highland County Community Action Organization and a host of other sponsors will hold the Harvesting Healthy Minds Breakfast and Presentation at the Highland County Fair from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7.
The event is held to connect farmers with local mental health providers and resources because the agricultural community faces unique challenges in respect to mental health. The event is also part of an effort to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems within the agriculture industry and among farmers.
“One of the reasons we chose that population was because we have had an increase of death by suicide in the agricultural population here locally,” said Highland County Community Action Organization Deputy Executive Director Tara Campbell.
Guest speaker Jason Meadows will be part of a program on mental health and wellness in agriculture during the breakfast. Meadows hosts the bi-weekly podcast “Ag State of Mind” on the Global Ag Network. He is a husband, father of four boys, rancher, and pharmacist who lives in Missouri and operates a 120-head cow-calf operation.
His podcast focuses on mental health and how it affects those involved in agriculture. “I will hold conversations with both professionals and producers about addressing mental health in ag and how we can adequately remedy the stresses,” Meadows said on the Global Ag Network website.
Highland County Community Action received grants last year and this year from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to support the breakfast and presentation. This year’s grant totaled $30,000.
“This year the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services reached out and they liked our event last year and they asked if we would like to continue on with it and of course we said absolutely,” said Campbell.
In addition to funding the roundtable during the breakfast, part of the grant money will go to wellness distribution bags full of mental health resources that will be given out at the breakfast as well as to participants of the county’s Meals on Wheel’s program three times a year.
“With our partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health we’re able to get a grant fund to put on the roundtable and the event, but we’re also working with our partners on being able to sustain the event if that grant goes away, so the more partnerships that we get the more we’re able to continue on down the road with the event,” said Campbell.
The event attracted 60 attendees last year, and Campbell said she is planning for 100 this year.
“We also partner with the local FFA chapters, and they are able to send students in to volunteer at the event and they help serve the breakfast and put together the swag bags,” said Campbell.
Campbell stressed the importance of holding a mental health event that specifically addresses the needs of farmers. “The stress of farming itself, with the financial stress along with the stress of harvesting or raising livestock, is unique to the farmer population, so being able to tailor mental health treatment and mental health resources to them makes it more effective,” she said.
Those who are interested in attending the free breakfast and presentation are encouraged to RSVP by contacting Campbell at 937-393-3458 or [email protected].
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.