Changing the conversation around mental health in rural America
A not-for-profit is challenging the stigma surrounding mental health in rural America.
Jeff Winton, a New York dairy farmer founded Rural Minds after his nephew died by suicide in 2012. “People in rural America, including my family, were raised to believe we shouldn’t talk about our problems,” he says.
He tells Brownfield the organization is partnering with several groups for outreach, including 4-H, FFA, and beginning farmers and ranchers. “Younger people are much more open and willing to talk about difficult situations,” he says.
Winton says they’re reaching out to younger members of the ag community by design. “They can be agents of change and do a lot of good,” he says. “Because even if their parents or grandparents aren’t willing to talk about it, they are. And as long as someone in that family or someone in that community is bringing this topic to the light, that’s where the healing will begin.”
The suicide rate for people living in rural areas is 64 to 68 percent higher than those of people who live in urban areas. In addition, one out of every five high school students has contemplated taking their own life.
Winton says what sets Rural Minds apart is that it focuses primarily on the 60 million people who live in rural areas.
If you are in need of help and need someone to talk to please reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.
Brownfield interviewed Winton at the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans, LA.
AUDIO: Jeff Winton, Rural Minds