Farmers’ Dinner Theater Raises Mental Health Awareness | news


The Logan and Warren County’s Cooperative Expansion Offices hosted the Farmers’ Dinner Theater last week to promote mental health awareness in rural southern Kentucky.

Students from schools in Logan and Warren Counties participated in the program by spending the week learning about farm safety and how to promote the mental wellbeing of residents. The University of Kentucky College of Nursing helped make teaching easier.

On Thursday evening, at the Russellville expansion office, more than 150 people watched as students perform a series of skits that demonstrated what they had learned. The students acted out situations that are often seen on farms that could harm someone’s mental health.

Each person in attendance was also treated to a free steak dinner while the students performed their skits.

Janet Turley, Warren County 4-H’s youth development officer, said the event was focused on mental health as the farming community has high suicide rates following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Believe it or not, Warren and Logan Counties, along with Henderson and Daviess Counties, have had multiple suicides. We’re the two highlighted groups for that, ”Turley said. “Also, I think they chose us because we are counties that have active programs and active agents that can make it happen.”

Turley said the program was funded by a grant the UK College of Nursing worked with the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Funding for the scholarship was made possible through support from Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, the AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Kentucky Beef Council.

Turley said the dinner theater was created to encourage meaningful conversations within families about mental health once they got home from the event.

“They (farmers) may experience some of these situations and be encouraged to seek that additional help,” said Turley. “The skits practice breathing exercises for coping with and dealing with someone contemplating suicide.”

A UK press release said the Farmers’ Dinner Theater model was developed by Deborah Reed, a professor emeritus at the UK College of Nursing.

The press release also states that 112 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are currently considered “medically underserved.”

Turley saw the high turnout for the community on Thursday as a positive sign of the future health of the area.

“My minimum goal was that I would have liked to have 100 people here, and I think we exceeded that number by a long way,” she said. “It’s just great that people are raising mental health awareness and seeing these kids perform. I am very proud of these children. “

Students participating in the week-long program were in at least eighth grade and consisted mostly of 4-H and FFA members.

Caver Woosley, 15, a new freshman at South Warren High School, said he was interested in the event after previously witnessing several middle school classmates struggling with mental health.

“I had no idea how to properly deal with these issues beforehand,” said Woosley. “I’ve learned a lot this week.”

One particular skill that Woosley and Jenna Coles, a 16-year-old prospective junior junior at Logan County High School, learned was QPR (asking, persuading, and referring) training.

Turley said QPR is similar to CPR in that training is an orderly set of guidelines for equipping a person to help someone who is having a health crisis.

“I wanted to learn more about mental health because I know a lot of people around me are struggling with it,” Coles said of her involvement. “Sometimes I don’t know how to handle it or really comfort her. This has given me the knowledge and resources I need to help the people in my community. “

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit

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