The Minnesota Department of Agriculture understands the extreme pressure farmers face today. To ensure farmers have access to adequate help that suits their needs, the Department of Ag. provides subsidized counseling for farms. Ted Matthews is the director of MN Rural Mental Health and is based out of Hutchinson, Minnesota.
Ted Matthews is a mental health practitioner with over 30 years of experience in counseling in rural areas. His focus for the past 2 decades has been farmer mental health support. He has been the director of mental health services during 5 natural disasters. Matthews provides outreach training and public speaking related to farm stressors, nation wide. He also has extensive counseling experience in the areas of PTSD, crisis intervention, family issues, suicidology and domestic abuse. Featured on the Huffington Post, MPRNews, CNN, AgriNews, Successful Farming, Prairie Farmer and many others, Ted offers his expertise to help the generation population to better understand the farming culture.
In 1998, Matthews began working with the Mental Health Outreach Program, which is operated through the Farm Business Management program within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The fundamental goal of the Mental Health Outreach Program is to help rural people address the various emotional issues arising from a rural economy experiencing rapid change and the effects of increasing farm consolidation on both farmer and non-farmer alike.
This program is effective because a diagnosis of mental illness is not a prerequisite and no additional reimbursement for services is required. As the demands of farming continue to increase, the necessity for addressing rural mental health needs becomes more acute. Matthews continues to work in a plethora of areas from crisis intervention to helping farmers relate to their families and workers to better utilize their resources.
Crisis Intervention Work
Project Hope Project Hope II Helped people through the fazes of grief when dealing with loss.
Trained disaster responders and outreach workers to deal with the crisis and all it entails.
Training for program officials.
Minnesota has figured out a way to help stressed farmers. Can it be replicated?
October 7, 2020
t’s difficult to quantify the program’s success, but the number of people Matthews counsels has increased over the years.
During his first year in the 1990s, he said he saw 30-35 people. In fiscal year 2020, he’s counseled 20 farm families, 15 couples, 40 individuals and eight farm business management instructors and their families, according to the program’s year-end report.
“Fall-off-a-cliff moment”: Covid-19 adds new dimension to farmers’ stress
June 23, 2020
Matthews said that stress for farmers during the pandemic extends beyond the economy. He expects a lot of farmers to experience PTSD from having to kill off so many of their animals.
“People don’t realize what it’s like for these companies to kill healthy pigs just because there’s no place to send them because Covid-19 closed those plants,” he said. “The high stress of that is just scary.”
May 18, 2020
Matthews has worked with farmers for decades, and he said it can be hard for them to seek help. That’s because so many feel their outcome, and even their identity, is tied to working hard......
AgriTalk Podcast with Ted from Farm Journal
Kansas Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam discusses the steps being taken to protect packing plant workers from Coronavirus plus quarantine provisions made available to those who have tested positive. Then rural mental health specialist Ted Matthews returns to put some of the stress farmers are dealing with right now in perspective. Then Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig joins us to discuss measures being taken to keep packing plant workers healthy and the need to expand federal aid to more sections of agriculture.
Viewpoint: Telemedicine helps closes rural health care gap
Oct 15th 2019
For nearly 60 million Americans living in rural areas of the country, getting access to quality health care can be a significant challenge — and the need is greater than ever. From the disproportionate impact of the opioid crisis in rural communities to the economic, structural and social barriers to mental health care in these areas, it is fair to say that rural America faces significant obstacles in health care. That is certainly the case in the rural Midwest.....
The Last Harvest
Fox Channel 9
According to experts, tracking the number of farmers who take their own lives is difficult. Current numbers are not yet available.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control published a study saying suicides in the farming, fishing and forestry industries were almost five times that of the general population. The CDC retracted the study because the information was inaccurate due to a coding error. The corrected version said the suicide rate for the group was about even with the rest of the general population......
Lake City dairy farmer becomes voice for rural mental health
April 1, 2019
The phone call with counselor Ted Matthews, as brief as it was, did not alter the fundamentals of Mills’ life. It did not alter the economic reality of stagnant milk prices, rising costs and disappearing profit margins; of a bitterly cold winter that cost farmers livestock and calves and collapsed barns; or the fact that Mills and her husband, Kent, are living through the worst dairy farm crisis of the lives.
But it did help restore Mills’ sense of hope.
“Unless you’re a dairy farmer or farmer, you don’t understand what living your life on margin is,” Mills said. “You don’t understand that almost everything you do to try to run this business is completely out of your control, whether it’s prices or weather or regulations.”
TransFARMation: The Ostrich Syndrome
May 20, 2019
Farmers have a lot coming at them right now, including low commodity prices, uncertain trade policies and weather delays during the rush of a busy planting season. None of these issues are things that farmers can control. When overwhelmed, it can be easy to stick our head in the sand and not deal with these problems.
Preventing Farmer Suicides through Helplines and Farm Visits
MAY 15, 2019
In 2016, dairy farmers Meg Moynihan and her husband lost the buyer for their organic milk. Because she was working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Organic Program at the time, Moynihan thought it’d be easy to find a new buyer, but “all doors were closed,” she said. “It was the beginning of the milk glut.”
Hope for the Hopeless
May 06 2019
More and more farmers and ranchers struggle with poor mental health. What can be done?
It might be the agricultural industry’s biggest problem nobody talks about. It’s more damaging than any drought, policy or outbreak. It’s farmer/rancher suicide, and it happens more often than you think.
According to recent research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, those who work in farming, shing and forestry occupations are 3.4 times more likely than workers in general to commit workplace suicide....
Jan 11, 2019
If you’re a woman and have roots in country living, United Way of McLeod County has a new opportunity for you: the Rural Women Conference from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Glencoe City City.
The event, which includes dinner and a cash bar, is featuring Rural Mental Health Counselor Ted Matthews as the keynote speaker. He will talk about how to improve communication and relationships.
December 23, 2018
“All of us want to do what we can for our children or our loved ones to help them have a happier Christmas,” Matthews said in an interview. “If you don’t have any money or you’re in the red, it’s going to be hard to focus on Christmas presents.”
He said the families he’s most worried about are dairy farmers. Corn and soybean prices will eventually rise again, he said, and farmers can store grain in hopes prices will rise. The situation for milk producers is more dire.
“With dairy farmers, they’re losing money every day, and with their product, they can’t hold on to it,” Matthews said. “These are people that work 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”
We don't have to be experts. All of us need to have a plan. Who do we call if we think someone is suicidal? If we don't have an answer to that, we will do nothing."
Life expectancy rates in the U.S. are falling. Ted Matthews, a psychologist with Minnesota's Department of Agriculture discusses the stresses on farmers.
Farmers already at higher risk of suicide face pressure from tariffs
Jun 8, 2018
Southwest Minnesota soybean Farmer Bob Worth has lost three friends and fellow farmers to suicide in the last year.
He believes financial stress had a lot to do with it.
"I mean this is like the fourth year of depressed commodity prices so it is really starting to eat on people," he said.
After several tough years of prices near or below break....
Minnesota works to expand its rural mental health program
Add Date here
For the past three decades, one individual has been responsible for responding to calls from Minnesota’s farmers who need help managing stress. Ted Matthews is and has been the only counselor available for farmers to turn to in their times of need. Now, a plan is before the state’s legislature to increase funding and...
Minnesota psychologist aims to raise mental health awareness for farmers
May 20 2018 07:36PM
There's a solitude in farm fields that suits most farmers just fine. It's a proud, dawn until dusk way of life that values less talking, more doing. The work is grueling. There are no sick days, no excuses and these days no cash flow.
“For many of us in the dairy industry we go everyday knowing that we're not making a profit," said Paul Wright, who runs a small dairy farm near Hutchinson.
Wright says even when they're doing everything right, farmers are still at the mercy of the weather, family dynamics, the markets and loan officers. Depression is common and so is denial.
Mental health on the farm
Posted on June 16, 2017
Being a farmer is unlike any other profession, and with that comes unique challenges. As farm operations continue to grow and increase in complexity, mental health is a crucial tool in navigating those daily hurdles, said Ted Matthews, a rural mental health specialist who counsels Minnesota families.
In his years working with farmers across greater Minnesota, Matthews has found farmers, especially the older generation, are less likely to address mental health with outside help. It is his hope that this stigma changes, as it has with younger...
In occupation where stress is ample, farmers have few options for mental health care
Jan 16, 2018
When the co-op that distributed milk from Meg Moynihan's Le Sueur County farm dropped her abruptly in 2016, it put the farm immediately into crisis.
Moynihan and her husband were pouring out milk they couldn't sell.
Moynihan remembers that her husband "kind of snapped." He told her to sell the cows and he went back to driving a truck, where he said he felt more appreciated. Moynihan took leave from her job in the city to work the farm while he was on the road.
"I know dairy farmers who have decided to sell their herds on a snap decision and have been sad about it later," Moynihan said. "I thought, the worst time to make a big decision like this is in the middle of a crisis, so can we limp...
Ted Matthews counsels farm families under stress
Jan 26, 2018
Since 1993, Ted Matthews, director of mental health outreach for Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has been taking calls and counseling farm families under stress. His free services are needed now more than ever as farmers face the challenges of a difficult farm economy.
“People are losing their farms. The last thing they need is a bill to talk to me,” said Matthews.
Matthews’ counseling services are open to all farm families at (320) 266-2390. When farmers call Matthews, there is no diagnosis. “It isn’t about what’s wrong with you. It’s about how do you make this life...
Mental Health & Farming
February 1, 2018
The stress of challenging commodity markets and uncertainty within agriculture can lead to problems for the mental health of farmers. The Director of Mental Health Outreach for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Ted Matthews, joins our podcast to discuss this timely and important topic...
Ted Matthews 320.266.2390
25 2nd Ave SE, Hutchinson, MN 55350