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MU Extension releases 2021 mental health toolkit

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University of Missouri Extension and Show-Me Farm Safety recently released a new Together We Can toolkit to help rural Missourians access mental health resources.

The toolkit release kicks off Mental Health Awareness Month, observed in May. Show-Me Farm Safety’s Missouri partners include AgrAbility, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, FFA, 4-H, Missouri Farm Bureau, the State Highway Patrol and the state’s departments of Agriculture, Labor, Mental Health and Transportation.

Rural Missourians sometimes encounter barriers to receiving timely help because mental health services may not be available in all rural counties, MU Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch says. Additionally, many farm families lack adequate insurance coverage for mental health services.

The MU schools of Medicine and Nursing and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy collaborate with MU Extension each summer to offer students a two-week clinical immersion experience to learn about health issues unique to rural populations, says Kathleen Quinn, MU senior program director for health and safety. The program addresses workforce shortages by helping to attract providers to areas of need, Quinn says.

Funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network has allowed MU Extension to offer free QPR Gatekeeper Training in April and May. The one-hour online class presents tips for emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons.

Throughout May, Together We Can will join the national Mental Health Awareness Month campaign to provide resources to people in farming and rural communities where they live, work and play.

For more information, search “Show Me Strong Farm Families” at extension.missouri.edu, visit Show-Me Farm Safety at farmsafety.mo.gov or contact Funkenbusch at funkenbuschk@missouri.edu or 573-884-1268.

Download the toolkit at bit.ly/3bmWZpd.

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