Extension office to update Douglas County Commission on effort to address stress, depression among farmers

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

In an effort to help address mental health struggles among Kansas farmers, the K-State Research and Extension Office of Douglas County will soon release a video to help raise awareness about the issue.

Mallory Meek, an agent for the extension office, will present the locally produced video to the Douglas County Commission during its meeting on Wednesday. In a letter to commissioners, Meek said the video highlights the struggles Kansas farmers face, their experiences with stress and how the extension office can help.

“The agriculture community often has difficulty talking about mental health or finding resources they relate to or find useful,” Meek said in the letter. “Due to the multiple variables of farming causing high stress levels, people who work in agriculture experience higher reported rates of depression and suicide.”

Meek previously discussed the issue with the County Commission during its Sept. 25, 2019, meeting. She explained at the time how the extension office was partnering with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to raise awareness and provide resources to local farmers. One example of the partnership’s work is a webpage on the extension office’s website highlighting various resources that can help farmers.

After showcasing the video during the meeting, Meek said the office plans to send the video to other agriculture related organizations — including all of the county extension offices, the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas Farm Bureau, among other organizations — so they can help spread awareness.

“Through the efforts of (local organizations), we are creating an atmosphere not only in Douglas County, but across the entire state of Kansas that is open to talking about the stress that comes with being a farmer,” Meek said.

In other business, the County Commission will also select a new chair and vice chair. Currently, Michelle Derusseau serves as the chair and Patrick Kelly serves as the vice chair.

Prior to the regular meeting, the commissioners will receive an update on the newly launched drug court program.

Commissioners will discuss the program with the drug court team during a work session, which means no action will be taken. The drug court team consists of county staff, representatives from local criminal justice and law enforcement agencies and the county’s community partners.

The county launched the drug court on Jan. 2 by taking referrals for the program. The 16-month, four-stage program plans to accept 15 participants who have been arrested and charged with a nonviolent felony and are having difficulty staying drug free.

The County Commission will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at douglascountyks.org.

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