Wellness in Tough Times

Part Seven: Wellness in Tough Times Project Rationale Statement

By Soni Cochran and Susan Harris

Since the bomb cyclone in early 2019, Nebraskans have been in survival mode, with an estimated nine years or more to recover. Compounding that stress are other variables such as rural financial struggles and COVID-19 isolation. These incidents and threats affect livelihoods and well-being, and they affect the prosperity of communities—the places where

Nebraskans live, work, and volunteer. Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Nebraska, and access to mental health services is limited in rural areas. Leadership for this New Technologies in Agricultural Extension (NTAE) project is provided by Extension Foundation Fellow Soni Cochran, University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Team members include (left to right) Michelle Krehbiel, Kerry Elsen, Julien Hoffman, Soni Cochran, Susan Harris, Kayla Hinrichs, and Brandy VanDeWalle. Supporting NTAE catalysts are Fred Schlutt and Scott Reed.

The Wellness in Tough Times team

This project addresses Goal 4.1 of the 2018-2022 USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Strategic Plan: Facilitate Rural Prosperity and Economic Development, where a primary strategy is increasing “investment in rural community health infrastructure to support health education, provisions for specialty health care, as well as improved mental health and behavioral health facilities.” The Wellness in Tough Times (WTT) project was conceived at the Extension Foundation Impact Collaborative in April of 2019. The team has been able to initiate some community assessments, support limited community gatherings, and develop a website, a video series, podcasts, PSAs, and a direct mail campaign. The WTT toolkit is a primary component and resource that needs to be developed to accommodate both virtual and face-to-face opportunities. The WTT project focuses on seven rural Nebraska locations affected by disaster(s) and with limited resources for recovery. The project strives to empower and strengthen the resiliency of individuals and families in communities by promoting opportunities to start the conversation around mental health and wellness. Outcomes associated with the project include the following:

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