Wellness in Tough Times

Part Six: Conclusion

By Soni Cochran

This is a marathon, not a sprint, to the finish line.

As we reflect on the past two years and the WTT project, our team learned that one of the challenges of addressing the stigma of mental well-being in rural communities is the stigma surrounding mental health. Combine this stigma with a record-breaking year of disasters, an already depressed agricultural economy, isolation, lack of local mental health resources, and a pandemic that just keeps on evolving, and you have a recipe for stressors that can overwhelm family systems and teams.

So, what did we do? We evaluated our processes and team health as we took this journey with communities. Our team has an overarching “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” as described in the book Built to Last , by Jim Collins. Through this project, we want to reduce the stigma around mental health in rural communities affected by disaster. Our efforts to date are highlighted in this eFieldbook and we have more to accomplish. When we began working on the WTT project, we created lists of ideas for events and outreach that were stymied by the pandemic. We had to be nimble, creative, and rely on our patience and partners so that we could be strategic about the way forward. First, we had to take a step back and re-analyze our project so we could still meet people where they were and provide opportunities to have conversations around mental well-being. Moving forward, we also want to reach out to vulnerable and underserved communities. We want to thank the NTAE catalysts, Fred and Scott, for their support, and the entire NTAE wrap-around-services team. This experience has given all of us an opportunity to grow and expand out of our comfort zones.

Ashley Mueller and Soni Cochran spend time with Gemma at the Nebraska Extension Fall Conference. Gemma is from NOAH’s Dogs of Nebraska and trained in crisis response and therapeutic support.

We hope this eFieldbook will inspire you to use these resources and program ideas to develop your own programs focusing on encouraging conversations around mental well-being. What you do every day can make a difference because every person and every interaction matters.

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