Depression is a topic that no one wants to talk about yet it affects millions of Americans each year.  Latest statistics show that 10% or more Americans, suffer from the mood disorder. That statistic is even higher when it relates to the world of agriculture.  Some websites say that 33% of people in the industry suffers from depression.

Courtney Kibblewhite is vice president and co-owner of Northern Ag Network and they have partnered with a number of different advocates across Montana related to this issue of mental wellness.

Courtney Kibblewhite’s story:

I don't know about you, but when I grew up mental health was not something we really talked about. I first started experiencing signs of depression when I was a teenager and felt more embarrassed than anything that anybody would find out about that. The truth is we've seen some of the statistics related to suicide and issues that happen within the agriculture community that throughout our state, our rural and farm and ranch population is vulnerable. That is for a number of different reasons. We have coined the phrase beyond the weather, and that's in collaboration with the Montana Department of Agriculture and Frontier Psychiatry.

What is “Beyond the Weather

When I say beyond the weather I'm sure you've been in that position where you talk to someone, a neighbor, maybe you haven't seen in a while, and you talk for minutes and minutes about how much moisture did you get on this part of your operation? You can focus all your time there and not really get to the heart of things like, how are things going since you since you lost your child or since your partner passed away. Life is just hard and challenging no matter who you are. So the goal of the Beyond the Weather campaign is really to de-stigmatize mental health and to get us talking about it.

Agricultural Lifestyle

I'm from a ranch family out in Sand Springs, Montana. Farm and ranch people are the most compassionate, whether it comes to helping your neighbor or your calves or whatever needs to get done. But, we're always focused on other people and not necessarily ourselves. Part of this campaign is to provide a resource to folks across the state to be able to access mental healthcare for free. So, The Montana Department of Agriculture has a fund that will grant free counseling access for anybody involved in Montana agriculture. You don't have to be the farmer, it can be the wife, the kid, the feed salesman, the banker in town. If you're involved in agriculture, you can get free counseling by going to beyond the The phone number to get free counseling is 406-200-8471. You can hit extension seven. At Beyond the Weather, you'll be able to see a number of different resources for managing stress and figuring out how to get through some of the difficult times.

Things that can Trigger Depression

I go automatically to the drought that we've had over the last few years and how challenging that can be to have that happen again and again. Yes, we've had some better cattle prices, but you really don't know. There's so much, so much uncertainty in agriculture. We want to offer a resource to be able to help farmers and ranchers and for you to be able to help your neighbor.

Signs to Look For

One thing that you can notice if someone is struggling, you might notice they usually keep their place really nice, they usually don't have junk around, and it's clean and it's tidy and lately it doesn’t look as good. You might notice when you run into someone and it feels like they haven't showered in a while. It feels like they just feel off. And, and it could be really hard to broach that conversation of, hey, what's, what's going on? Click HERE to read what are some of the signs of depression.

It is Okay to talk about Depression

Not just the weather, but let's get beyond the weather. What's going on with you? From that you can offer this resource. Hey, maybe you should talk to someone. Check out Beyond the Weather. You can get free counseling through that. The other resource is a more urgent crisis number and that would be the 988 number which is a mental health Suicide Hotline. Anybody who is struggling can call that and you can talk to someone right away about what you're experiencing.

Frontier Psychiatry

The amazing thing about beyond the weather dot com and the relationship with Frontier Psychiatry, who's providing the tele-health services, is that it can all happen over the internet. I know not all of us have the best internet coverage, but that's all you have to have is a telephone or an internet connection, and you can be connected to a provider directly there.

Mental Health is like a Fence

One analogy my friend Bob Lee told me is, it's like when you have a hole in the fence, you're not going to ignore the hole in the fence. You don't want your cows to get out and make your neighbor mad or you don't want an animal to get hurt. You have to address the hole in the fence and, and then you can move forward. I think that's what this mental wellness conversation is about. If something's not right in your mind, you're not going to be able to support your family. You're not going to be able to support your community or your operation. Ultimately what we all want is to be able to pass on this way of life to the next generation. So addressing our own needs and supporting our community to be able to do that is critical.

Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash
Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash

If you have a story idea or something you want to learn more about, give Randy a call at 406-788-3003 or send me an email at

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