shared numbers for the Rural Response Hotline, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the Negotiations Hotline. The cards also conveyed messages of hope and support.
At HHD, the team also provided information and resources related to suicide awareness. A short video played on a continuous loop and provided opportunities to engage in conversations with people who stopped by to watch it. Considering the stigma surrounding mental well-being and suicide, the WTT team members were surprised that in this environment, people openly shared stories and their concerns for loved ones or themselves and their mental well-being. Many also opened up about their own struggles and the need to address mental well-being. Many HHD attendees stopped to thank the team for the suicide awareness messages and for bringing this important topic to the forefront. As another way to identify the stress and wellness needs of rural communities, the team conducted an informal survey of HHD attendees who stopped by the WTT booth. Three kiosks were set up for people to easily give their responses, using iPads. The team gained valuable knowledge from 471 participants on how to best communicate with residents in rural communities to provide information and resources on mental well-being. Some of the items participants selected as preferred ways to receive information included listening to radio programs or podcasts, Engaging with 2021 Husker Harvest Days attendees at the booth; photo credit: Susan Harris
attending programs in person, emails, and getting information from their church group. Many of the participants who completed the survey (68%) agreed they were experiencing stress and, 57% identified the need for more information and educational programs to support rural communities learn how to cope with stress in healthy ways. Another stress and wellness needs assessment survey is planned for the 2021 HHD event.
2021 Husker Harvest Days Survey
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WTT team was not able to participate in HHD but still identified a way to hear from a few selected rural counties. In partnership with the Extension Foundation and the Farm Journal “Trust in Food” (TIF) initiative, a survey was developed, adapted from the stress and wellness needs assessment survey given at the 2019 HHD. The results from the 2020 survey were consistent with the results of the 2019 HHD survey, with many reporting stresses and the need for resources and information to support well-being in rural communities. The WTT team provided another informal survey for the 2021 HHD, receiving 486 usable responses from those 19 and older. This survey snapshot showed that about 20% are “very or extremely bothered” by stress, and work continues to cause stress while also giving relief as a coping mechanism. Again, responses provided insight into how our constituents prefer to receive information. After “radio and podcasts” ranked high in 2019, we decided to separate those to compare value placed on each. They ranked very closely.
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