Ky. coalition launching app to help farmers, rural state residents with mental health
A Kentucky organization is launching a new initiative it hopes will help some of the state’s rural residents struggling with mental health.
Raising Hope – a coalition of agriculture, education and healthcare institutions that assists Kentucky farmers and other rural commonwealth residents who struggle with their mental and physical health – is working to develop resources that can help people in these communities and raise awareness of resources already available.
Farmers are twice as likely to commit suicide than people in different profession. Fluctuations in production conditions and market values are some of the common causes in mental health issues in farmers.
Coalition project manager Babette Overman said farmers’ lifestyles come with added stress already, but events like the 2021 tornado outbreak and the eastern Kentucky floods in 2022 have made that stress worse. These disasters caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and that’s money that farmers don’t have.
“I can see from what has happened in western Kentucky and eastern Kentucky that there is a great need for our service,” Overman said.
The organization measures its success by the amount of calls and interactions they receive from callers who need help. All of their efforts are tailored to their service audience.
Overman says it is important to understand how different it is communicating to someone from a rural area as opposed to someone from a metropolitan area. She says certain calling centers – like the Pennyroyal Center in Hopkinsville, which answers calls from the Suicide and Crisis Hotline – have proven more effective at communicating with farmers and their families.
“I think it's very interesting how our psyches work. We all don’t like to admit we are struggling,” Overman said. “This is not just the farm community. It goes beyond that, and we have to do something.”
The organization will be launching an app, also called Raising Hope, later this month. It will help farmers and other rural Kentucky residents to evaluate their mental health and get connected with other services. Raising Hope’s app will officially launch on Feb. 15.
The app isn’t the only resource for Kentuckians struggling with their mental health. People in need can also call the federally-run 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline.
Launched last summer, the 988 hotline aims to help citizens in crisis faster. So far, more than 2,000 Kentuckians on average each month call the hotline and that number is only expected to go up. A recent release from the governor’s office said those numbers are projected to quadruple by June.
Federal and state officials are “hard launching” the hotline this summer, increasing the number of ads and initiatives aimed at spreading awareness of the service.