Checkoff funds helping bring more mental health resources to rural Minnesota

Rural Minnesota

A rural dirt road between farms in Cairo Township, Minnesota.

Wikipedia Commons, Tony Webster

The Minnesota Pork Board, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, and Checkoff dollars are working to provide more mental health resources to farmers and ranchers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The groups partnered with the Center for Rural Behavioral Health last year.

“The Center for Rural Behavioral Health was started to look at how we address the mental health issues in rural communities and started with the workforce. So, we know we have these mental health challenges. One of the problems we didn’t fully understand was that we didn’t have the resources in these communities to meet these challenges,” said Thad Shunkwiler, the Outreach Coordinator with the Center for Rural Behavioral Health in Mankato, Minnesota.

Like many places in rural America, Shunkwiler says there was a vast treatment gap between those needing mental health help and providers. He says they knew they couldn’t do it alone to meet demand. It’s why they partnered with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Minnesota and state pork groups as their Ag partners.

“Their mission of ‘healthy people raise healthy pigs’ just really resonated with me, and so it was an ideal match for us. And so, getting Jill and Minnesota Pork on board is a big bonus for us as we go out to meet this mission,” Shunkwiler said.

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