Kibbewhite Addresses Rural Mental Health

Courtney Kibblewhite, the vice president and co-owner of Northern Ag Network in Montana, is teaming up with the Montana Department of Agriculture on a new program to break the stigma surrounding mental health among farmers and ranchers.

Beyond the Weather is a program that addresses mental health and empowers farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to get beyond the weather, both in their conversations and how they look at themselves.

“In agriculture, the weather is a universal topic we can all talk about and is so important to what we do. It seems to be the first thing we talk about, and sometimes, it’s the only thing we talk about,” Kibblewhite said. “The truth of the matter is there’s a lot more going on in our own minds than what’s based on the weather.”

Through this program, any supporter of agriculture has direct access to free counseling. Another component the organization is involved in is creating an agriculture campaign that brings mental health reality to light and encourages people to either seek help or talk about it with friends, family, and their communities.

“Part of our culture in agriculture is to work hard and get the job done, even if you’re physically or mentally hurt. It’s not that we think we’re too good to ask for help – we’re too tough for it,” Kibblewhite said.

Kibblewhite encourages the rural and agriculture community to seek help and to talk about their mental health.

“We believe your greatest asset isn’t any piece of equipment that is in the shed or a horse in your barn, it is you,” Kibblewhite said.