; Strengthening the Mental Health Support Network For WV Farm Families | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Strengthening the Mental Health Support Network For WV Farm Families

Jodi Richmond and Alexandra Smith


With recent economic factors, farmer stress management, mental health awareness, and suicide prevention are becoming ever more important. WVU Extension and our partners have utilized multiple funding streams to develop and strengthen support networks for families, reduce stigma related to mental health and addiction, increase protective factors and reduce risk factors related to substance use, depression, suicide, and preventative mental illness care through direct education and by training teachers, service providers and other key personnel.

In 2022, WVU Ext awarded a $125,572 Farmers & Ranchers Stress Assistance Network grant to train ag service providers to recognize stress among producers, connect them to mental health and other support services, strengthen the collaboration of the network and ultimately prevent farmer suicides and increase stress management strategies.

Extension trainers have been trained in QPR Gatekeeper, Mental Health First Aid, Down on the Farm, and Botvin LifeSkills (for youth). This poster will focus on the results of the first year of the QPR training and results of perceptions of mental health survey of over 500 West Virginia famers.
27 faculty members have been trained in the QPR curriculum, as well as 10 ag service providers from outside agencies. In 2023, QPR was presented to producers at 11 locations/events (eight dinner meetings and three other events, including the WV Small Farms Conference). Program evaluations documented a 92 percent increase in knowledge about suicide prevention between pre/post-test. Of 103 respondents to the survey, 65 percent said they had low confidence in asking someone about suicide before the program. Ninety-seven percent had a medium or high confidence after the program (with 48 percent being high confidence). Only 34 percent indicated they had a medium or high confidence in persuading someone to get help on the pre-survey, but 94 percent chose those options on the post-survey.

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