QPR: What is it for?

This week I had the opportunity to take a class on QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer. QPR is an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons which was created by Paul Quinnett back in 1995, the intent is to identify and interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care. Here is a link to their website that explains the process in more detail https://qprinstitute.com/about-qpr

The easiest way for me to explain QPR is to think of it like this, in firefighting, when we get dispatched to a fire often we have no idea how big the fire will be, it could be a small trash can fire burning in the kitchen or it could be the entire house is on fire. Regardless of the size of fire we always give our best effort to save lives and preserve property as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The sooner a fire is reported the better the chances are of stopping that fire before it destroys the entire house. If the fire goes unnoticed for too long it will be harder to control and most likely the damage will be so great that the structure and all of its contents will be a total loss, not to mention should someone be trapped by the fire, their chances of survival drastically decrease as more time passes in the event. This same theory applies to mental health. The longer a mental health condition lingers the harder it can be to fix that condition or the harder it may be to prevent a person dying from suicide.  

One way to help prevent people from dying from suicide is having people trained in early intervention, people that are taught to recognize the early signs of a suicidal behavior and also trained on how to refer someone to the help they need. We have to stop being afraid of approaching someone who you suspect is in need of help, QPR training provides you with the tools to do just that, it teaches you to not just listen but to respond.

Many companies over the years have provided their employees with CPR training, and now with advancement in medical equipment many companies also have employees trained in how to use an automated external defibrillator, or also known as an AED. Also another thing some companies provide for their employees are lactation rooms for mothers who need some privacy during the day to handle their lactation needs. All of these things are meant to help save a life or help improve the work environment for the employees.

So my hope is that with mental health becoming a more talked about subject, maybe more companies will provide their employees with QPR training, and also provide a designated area or room that employees can utilize should the need arise to intervene with someone experiencing a mental health emergency. It’s really no different than giving employees training and tools to save someone’s life during a heart attack, the same needs to be done to help someone in a mental health crisis.

Lastly I know that we cannot save everyone no matter how hard we try, and just like fighting fires, you will save some and you will lose some, but if we do nothing or don’t respond, then we won’t save any.

Co-occurring disorders

I had an outreach specialist reach out to me and ask me if I would like to add their services to my mental health resources page. I checked into the links he provided and I tell you both of the websites really hit close to home for me. The webpages offer a lot of valuable information about mental health, but they go a step further in talking about dealing with co-occurring disorders.

When our oldest daughter went to drug and alcohol rehab for the first time all the treatment facility did was address the addiction part of her disorders, and for the most part they did a good job at teaching her how to address her addiction. However no one really examined why she became to be dependent on drugs and alcohol, and at the time my wife and I were also just as clueless as to why she was going down the path she was traveling.

Eventually our daughter had a relapse and needed to go back to treatment. Both my wife and I agreed that we needed a different rehab facility for our daughter. Luckily someone made a recommendation for a treatment facility down in Florida. Instantly my wife started working the phones and seeing what we needed to do to get our daughter the help she needed. Through this research we discovered that our daughter needed someone who could address not only the addiction problems but her mental health conditions as well.

The facility we sent her to told us that it was most important to first learn why she is making the decisions she is making then from there structure a treatment plan that will address all of her issues, not just the drug and alcohol addiction. When our daughter came home from the second rehab we could tell a difference in that treating her mental health and the addiction problems, she seemed more prepared to reenter life and try again.

Sadly she did experience a 2nd relapse after being home just a few weeks, this however was not due to the lack of skills the treatment center had to offer, this was due to our daughter coming home to early and not being fully prepared to reenter society. She returned to the treatment facility in Florida until she was stronger and more equipped to come back home. Luckily with more time and training she seems to be on the right path now.

So two valuable lessons, one, if you or a loved one needs to seek rehab treatment for addiction make sure the facility is equipped to address all of your issues, make sure they can get to the root of the problem and not teach you how to just avoid using drugs and alcohol, but instead teach you how to avoid or handle the situations that will lead you to wanting to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Secondly it takes time to heal, make sure you are ready to reenter society when you feel you are strong enough and that you have received the proper help and tools that will allow you to navigate day to day life. Don’t get in a rush, each person rebuilds their life at a different pace, and always remember your life is worth it, take the time to heal yourself, you deserve it and the people who love you deserve it.

Here are a few links you can check out for a facility that addresses co-occurring disorders. Both of these links offer a lot of good information on addiction and mental health awareness.



Free Online Course Helps Farmers, Ranchers Cope with Stress

“When we’ve done our surveys, we found was a tremendous amount of mental health problems out in rural America – two out of five farmers didn’t really know whether or not they could find help or where to go to get help.” Zippy Duvall

Click on the below link to check out the free Online Course Helps Farmers, Ranchers Cope with Stress


The principles of firefighting can be used in maintaining mental health

In the fire department that I grew up in my father was an Assistant Chief, one night after fighting a fire we were back at the fire station and I overheard someone ask my father about why he asked for more resources before arriving on scene. My father explained that as we were approaching the scene, but still a few minutes away, he had observed an orange glow over the hill and if there was a big fire it was important to get more resources started our way. Out in the rural areas sometimes the next fire department that can provide support may be a long ways away and the sooner you get them started your way the sooner you will have help. Upon arrival of the fire it was discovered that the fire was just a fully involved outbuilding with no threat to any surrounding structures or surrounding vegetation. It was determined at that point that the additional units would not be needed and they could cancel their response and this fire could be worked with the units on scene. My dad summed up his decision to ask for help early instead of waiting longer was that it’s better to say “aw shit”, instead of “oh! Shit”…….(his words, not mine)

When you watch the news in the summer time I am sure you have seen all of the wild fires in the western part of the U.S. Those fires are fought with multiple resources from multiple agencies. The number one resource is of course is the firefighters. Supporting those firefighters are heavy equipment operators, numerous types of aircraft, medical staff, logistical services providing meals, first aid, places to take showers, communications, planning and strategy teams, the list goes on of who and what resources are involved with fighting that fire.

When it comes to firefighting the more resources you have at your disposal the more efficient you can be at fighting that fire. Same goes for a car wreck, having enough personnel and the right tools for the job improves the chances of saving someone’s life. Often in the fire service minutes can be crucial, they may mean the difference in saving a life vs losing a life.

Not every situation will you have the correct resources you need to get the job done as efficiently as you may like. If your tractor breaks down on the farm you may not have the right tool on hand to fix it. So what do you do? Your next option is to figure out if you have a different tool or resource that you can use that will work, maybe it won’t work as well but in a pinch it will get you by to get the job done. If you don’t have any tools that will fix your problem then it’s time to call someone who can help you.

The same principles that are used in firefighting can be applied to maintaining your mental health. Especially for those in the rural setting where the resources for mental health are already slim pickings. If you are a firefighter don’t put off asking for help only from someone who understands a firefighter, if you are a farmer, same thing applies, yes I agree it’s more helpful to ask for help from someone who understands farming, but again, if there are not any resources available that understand farming then by all means don’t give up, it’s okay to reach out to someone who is not educated in your line of work. If you are to the point where you feel you need help it’s more important to get help from someone that can help you regardless of their understanding of your current or past career.  

The resources and tools that available to help you maintain your mental health may come in several different forms, shapes and sizes. The most important part is asking for help if you are struggling, I have had times where I feel a bit down and the person who lifts me up the most really has nothing in common with my life other than they are understanding and always willing to listen and help me any way they can, he may not have all the answers but he sure gives it his best effort.

If you feel that you or a loved one may be at risk of needing some help maintaining your mental health I urge you to do your homework ahead of time, try not to wait till the last minute when all of a sudden you are now in an emergency situation and you are scrambling to find out what resources are available to you, also try to find a couple of sources of help, your first choice that best fits your needs may not be available at the time you need them the most.

100 years ago women got the right to vote

Most of us are probably not old enough to remember all the way back to August 18th 1920. If you are old enough to remember that far back then I would love to pick your brain about what you have seen over the past 100 years, maybe you can pass along some of your secrets to successful canning and food preservation. So for the rest of us August 18th 1920 was the day the 19th amendment was ratified, and if you are anything like me and didn’t pay much attention in high school the 19th amendment gave all American women the right to vote.

I took some time to research how women have progressed from not having the right to vote to women entering the workforce and increasingly becoming leaders in the agriculture industry. Along the way women have had to endure many struggles to get to where they are today. Women are often not treated the same as their male counterparts, however as women continue to fight their way to equality we continue to see more and more fruits of their labor while also paving a path for their daughters to hopefully not have to face the same struggles as the women before them did.

  • In 2017 nine percent of farms in the United States are run entirely by women.
  • In 2017 the United States had 1.2 million female producers, which accounts for 36 percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers.
  • In 2017 female operated farms accounted for 38 percent of U.S. agriculture sales and 43 percent of U.S. farmland.
  • From 2012 to 2017 there was a 27 percent increase of female producers in the U.S. Also in that same time frame there was a 23 percent increase if female operated farms.
  • In Canada by 2016, 77,830 females accounted for 28.7% of the countries farm operators.

While the proportion of women to men in agriculture continues to rise in Canada and the U.S. many women are considered new to their role in politics as well as farming. I would take to turn the typewriter over to my good friend, Bridgette Readel to hear her thoughts about women’s rights and women’s roles over the past 100 years.

My great-great grandmothers immigrated to the USA between 1883-1885.  They had no idea that women would ever have the right to vote or be would be involved in politics in this country; It was never on their radar!  My grandmother was born in 1919 not knowing that she would ever have the right to vote.  But by 1920, these women did and I’ll be damned if I let them down but not participating and giving my voice to decisions.

The great & great-great grandmothers of that era hosted coffee meetings, wrote letters, walked in parades and did their best to convince their husbands, sons and brothers that they were ready, willing and able to soundly participate in the American political process.  The last necessary state to ratify the 19th amendment was Tennessee.  The last deciding vote was made because that legislators mother wrote him a letter suggesting he vote on behalf of the ladies……and her!

What did their work do for me? I vote.  Every election. Every year.

In my agricultural work life, being a woman with the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else, I have found a few advantages:

-Being able to deliver less than ideal news to a customer in a manner that’s like hearing it from a professional mother type.

-Being seen as a coach and teacher in situations that could have been confrontational.

-Being able to hold my ground and be a role model for other women to be professionals.  Similar to what the suffragists did when campaigning for the right to vote; many strove to be seen as professional and respectable.  Aren’t those attributes we should all strive to emulate?

-Is every day easy at work? No, and it’s not easy regardless of your gender or the industry in which you work. 

-We vote.  Everyone of us.  Are you exercising your right? Think of all the little battles your grandmothers and great grandmothers had to fight for that to happen? Don’t let them down.



We all hurt the same.

If you are a farmer and fall off a tractor and break your leg you more than likely will need to see a doctor to get your leg fixed. If you are a firefighter and fall of a fire truck and break your leg you will most likely end up at the same place the farmer is to also get your leg fixed. The fact is that you both have a broken leg and the process to heal your leg is going to be similar, how you got the broken leg is not the same but all in all the outcome and healing will be.

The stress that comes from breaking your leg may also be very similar even if you are from two different backgrounds in that now you are worried about how are you going to feed your family while you are out of work. Who is going to feed the animals or check the crops to make sure they are growing well, who will have to pick up extra responsibilities at your job because now you can no longer perform certain chores or duties?

When it comes to mental health, the same thing applies, the environmental factors that may trigger a mental health crisis can be completely different between a farmer and a firefighter but those feelings of self-doubt and that your life doesn’t matter, or the overwhelming feeling that you are worthless or a failure all feel the same regardless of your profession or livelihood.

What a person does for a living does not make their mental health any more or less important than yours. Understanding a person’s background or lifestyle may make it easier to communicate with someone who is needing help, but the overall picture is that the person needs help regardless of how they got to where they are in their time of crisis. The more we open up the lines of communication and talk about mental health awareness the easier it will be to help someone in a time of need no matter if that person is a farmer, a military veteran or if that person is an engine mechanic.  

Not only is there a need to make conversations about mental health less uncomfortable there is also a need to continue educating people on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues. If you want to learn how to perform CPR because you feel it might help you save a life there are many resources you can utilize to get that kind of training, we need to have the same thing for how to deal with mental health issues.

This year has been one heck of a strange year, one nothing like many of us have ever seen before, mental health problems are on a steep incline as this year drags on, be sure to check on your neighbors, friends, coworkers and family, drop someone a note or message asking them if they are okay if you suspect they may be struggling. A lot of people are suffering right now and unfortunately a lot of people experiencing a mental health crisis will suffer alone because they are too afraid or too embarrassed to ask for help, or they may simply not know how to get help.

You don’t have to have all the answers to help someone, sometimes just the idea that you cared enough to ask them if they need help is enough to give someone a shred of hope that maybe they can get themselves better, just talking to someone might be all that person needs for them to decide they want to make that call for help.

In summary don’t be afraid to reach out and help someone regardless of what that person does for a living, you may not understand why someone does what they do or you may not understand the reasons of why someone is struggling, the point is in the big picture we all hurt and struggle the same and we all have the ability to help one another.

Understanding the Consumer

Often things said on agriculture social media can be taken out of context, this is partly due to the consumers not understanding the agriculture world, but also stems from the agriculture world not understanding the consumer. When it comes to social media there is your reality of your operation and there are a million perceptions of your reality. Sometimes on social media it can be difficult to convey your reality to someone because of a cultural difference between someone in the agriculture industry and the consumer. It’s not that either side is ignorant or does not have the ability to learn about the other, it’s more of either side has not been exposed to each other’s way of life. Sometimes the lack of understanding is simply due to a terminology barrier, many times agriculture terminology does not translate well to the consumer terminology without a little extra explanation.

When I listen to podcasts I will hear people say things like “I am a 4th generation farmer”, people who understand the agriculture world know that being a 4th generation farmer has some value behind it. People who understand agriculture know what is involved for a family to be able to successfully farm the land for that many years. For a family to still be working the same land for over 100 years it typically means the family has a good understanding of their operation, the family has taken care of the land so that the land has been able to give back to them. More than likely the family has had to change with the times and adjust the way they do business because farming today is a whole lot different today than it was 100 years ago.

When a consumer hears someone say they have been farming for 4 generations the consumer may have a complete different train of thought, they may think you are still working that land the same way your great grandfather worked the land. So the reality is that your family has made necessary changes to their operation in order to stay profitable, but the perception from the consumer may be that your ways are outdated. Through positive agriculture advocacy hopefully the consumer can learn what being a 4th generation farmer really means.

Earlier this year meat supplies in the grocery stores was very low, often there were times where the meat shelves were completely empty. To the consumer that is a meat shortage, if the consumer cannot buy meat to feed their kids then that by definition in the consumer world is a shortage. The consumer is not aware of why the meat shelves were empty, they just know that they need to find something else to feed their kids.

During the few weeks that meat was hard to find I saw several agriculture people post on social media that there was not a meat shortage, while yes that is partly correct, try explaining that to the consumer when they are standing in the grocery store staring at blank shelves. If they can’t buy meat then no matter how you spin it they are going to call it a shortage, and to the consumer your credibility as an agriculture advocate just went out the window and anything you say going forward probably will be met with skepticism. So the agriculture reality is that there was not a meat shortage, but the perception of the consumer is that there was a shortage of meat because the consumer was not aware of what it takes to get the meat from the field to the grocery store.

Through agriculture advocacy there were some social media posts that did a good job explaining that there was not a shortage and they explained very well why the shelves were empty. Those posts were able to break the process down for the consumer to understand where the meat was. Once the consumer heard the advocates acknowledge that the shelves were bare and here is the real reason why, then the consumer gained more confidence that the matter was being handled and that shortly the meat supply would return.

Every year grocery stores and food manufacturing companies spend millions of dollars studying the consumer and their purchasing habits. They know where the best place in a store is to place a certain item so that it gets high visibility. The packaging of a product is geared to catch you attention, they use key words that are hot topics such as gluten free, or non-GMO, the manufactures know that those terms are hot topics among the consumer in today’s society. As someone who works in the agriculture industry you may not agree with some of those marketing terms, but the manufactures have studied the consumer and they know what to say to motivate the consumer to buy those products.  The food manufactures know how to create an interest in a product because they know how the consumer will react.

A good example was the dairy industry changing the wording of how much fat is in a jug of milk. Consumers are more receptive to the term 97% fat free than saying the term whole milk. The milk is the same but you just word it so that the consumer is drawn to it because today a lot of consumers are concerned about the amount of fat they have in their diet and saying 97 percent fat free just sounds healthier.

So in summary if you are a person who wants to be social media influencer and an advocate for the agriculture world, it may be beneficial to understand the consumer culture, if you understand a little more of the consumers background it may help you structure your thoughts so that the consumers perception of your reality may actually be closer to the message you are trying to convey. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply ask a consumer questions. Ask the consumer directly the reasons why they feel a certain way. Consumers are big on feelings, a lot of their actions are based on how something makes them feel. Just like slapping gluten free on a can of peanuts, the peanuts have always been gluten free, but it makes the consumer feel good that they are eating a gluten free food because they have a perception that gluten free food is healthier. If you can learn what their feelings are you may be able to use that to explain your reality in a way that would make them feel good. Instead of making the consumers understand your wording maybe try to break your wording down to something they can understand or relate to. What may seem simple to you to understand may not make any sense to a consumer.

If you can find a way to appeal to the consumer’s interest it may be a good way to peak their interest enough for them to ask you more about the agriculture world, then you have a win win situation, both the consumer and the agriculture producer can gain a little deeper understanding of each other’s culture.

Are you prepared to handle someone with a mental health crisis?

If your best friend called you up and said they want to end their life are you prepared to handle that situation?

Almost daily on one of the social media platforms you are likely to find someone asking for recommendations. Maybe they need someone to fix their AC unit, or they are looking for a good place to eat in a certain city. If you scroll through the comments you will find more than enough recommendations of who to call or where to go, and more often than not you will see a few names of who not to call or places not to go eat at. However when it comes to a mental health crisis situation not many people really know how to get someone help and they don’t really know what to even say to a person that is reaching out for help.

When I was a firefighter we received training on how to cut someone out of a smashed up car, and we would also practice things like how to search a burning building for trapped occupants. We knew what tools we had at our disposal and we were trained well on how to use them effectively and efficiently. As a firefighter not every situation was going to be the same, but with enough training and expertise we could typically develop an action plan to get done what we needed to get done.

As a kid in the 70’s and 80’s before everyone had a cell phone and before 911 became a thing people kept emergency numbers near the house phone. Should you need to summons the fire department or call the local sheriff the phone numbers were right there in plain view and easy to see. In addition to knowing who to call for an emergency many people are trained on CPR, in the event a person collapses in front of you, knowing CPR might be the difference in that person surviving or not making it.

Should we do the same for mental health emergencies? Should we be prepared in the event a loved one or your best friend since grade school calls you up out of the blue and says I am struggling, I need help? I have listened to many stories where someone reached out for help but no one really knew how to help them, they didn’t know what resources were available, if they did know of a local resource they may not of known how to properly utilize that resource. You can call the local doctor but more than likely you will get the typical response of we can schedule an appointment for 3 weeks from now. I am sorry but 3 weeks from now might be too late in some circumstances. When someone gets to the point of a mental health crisis where they reach out to you for help the time to act is now, time is of the essence. We should have a plan in place of who we can call for help in our local area.

Not knowing how I can help save a life in regards to a mental health situation really scares me, so I have signed up for a class that will give me some tools to help me should I ever receive a phone call from someone needing help. The training is called QPR. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer. It is training that anyone can take to better equip themselves to deal with someone who has become suicidal or someone that is struggling and has reached out to you for help. I am excited to receive this training so that I can better prepare myself should I find myself in a situation where I need to take action to help a person suffering from a mental health crisis.  Just like knowing CPR or first aid, this will be another tool in my tool box that may someday help me save a life.

I urge you to take some time and research who you can call should the need arise that you find yourself needing to help a friend or loved one who is struggling. Help to open the lines of communication so that we can remove the stigma that mental health is something scary and that it’s something that only the professionals can deal with.

Here is a link the QPR Institute where you can read up on how you can take advantage of some great training. https://qprinstitute.com/

There are many resources available that deal with mental health awareness, we just need to know how to access them and we need to prepare ourselves of what to say to someone hurting and struggling.