Educating nurses to understand rural and farm stress as frontline caregivers

Educating nurses to understand rural and farm stress as frontline caregivers

Mental health issues, including suicide, disproportionately affect rural residents — in particular farmers and their families. In Kentucky, 43.6% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, while about 75% Kentuckians were without adequate mental health access.

Although nurses are at the forefront of healthcare and a trusted profession across the country, the scope of the nursing practice typically focuses on traditional medical models that don’t account for social determinants of health, rurality and the stresses of farm living that adversely impact mental health.

To better equip nurses to reduce mental health challenges and suicides among farm populations, University of Kentucky Extension collaborated with the UK College of Nursing and the Kentucky Nurses Association to provide continuing education on rural mental health challenges and the unique farm stressors.

Since deployment in August 2022, approximately 8,739 nurses have taken the course for credit toward licensure renewal. After participating in the course, 98% learned to recognize stressors among farming populations and 99% learned how to identify rural mental health challenges. Moreover, 99% reported that the course was appropriate for their level of practice.

The ability and capacity of Extension to connect partners for collective impact is demonstrated in this collaboration to address mental health concerns in the rural population in Kentucky.

Link to full statement on website: