Success StoryBARN Bringing Awareness Right Now



BARN Bringing Awareness Right Now

Author: Kenna Knight

Planning Unit: Pendleton County CES

Major Program: Substance Use and Mental Health - FCS

Plan of Work: Promoting Health and Wellness from cradle to grave

Outcome: Long-Term Outcome

According to the 2022 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 7.3 million rural adults reported having a mental health challenge. Suicide rates in Kentucky and our nation have continued to rise since 2003. In general, Kentucky suicide mortality rates are 17% to 27% higher than those in the rest of our nation. People are dying by suicide more frequently in Kentucky. Due to these alarming statistics, the eight-county northern Kentucky area family and consumer sciences agents provided The B.A.R.N. (Bringing Awareness Right Now) Workshop, and Farm Dinner Theater program, as strategies to address and explore the difficult topics of mental health and suicide within our communities.

On June 7, 2023, the B.A.R.N. Workshop was held for thirty local community members educating them on mental health topics and QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention. This core group of trained individual volunteers then divided into working groups to develop scripts and scenarios on stress management, mental health stigmas, and suicide prevention for presenting at the B.A.R.N. Farm Dinner Theater in August 2023. Collaborating with a trained Extension agent, the groups developed vignettes, scenery, and props for use during the theater. 

Evaluation results from workshop: A written evaluation was collected from the 30 B.A.R.N. Workshop participants at the conclusion of the day-long training. Statistically significant increases in knowledge for mental health and well-being; recognition of stress, anxiety, and depression; understanding the steps of QPR for suicide prevention; knowledge of self-care activities; understanding the importance of working with others; use of storytelling to improve mental health and well-being for suicide prevention; and understanding the links between improved mental well-being and suicide prevention were noted. All the workshop participants “strongly agreed” that the workshop information was practical and that learned lessons that they could implement in their daily lives. The thirty trained volunteers developed and conducted the B.A.R.N. Farm Dinner Theater with 157 attendees.

On August 31, 2023, the B.A.R.N. Farm Dinner Theater was held with more than 157 older teens and adult participants from the general public and Extension Homemaker groups. The event featured an Extension-funded, catered dinner, three skits performed by the groups of trained volunteers, and guided table conversations following each skit to reinforce the messages and allow attendees to process the information provided. A University of Kentucky College of Nursing professional provided a summary discussion and thoughts for personal application at the conclusion of the skits. Participants received a packet of resources materials for their personal use and for sharing with family and friends. Local resource listings and information about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline were in the packet of materials provided. 

Immediate evaluations were collected from the 157 participants at the end of the B.A.R.N. Dinner Theater. Results revealed statistically significant increase for 123 of the participants in knowledge and understanding regarding self-care; mental well-being, the effects of stress; suicide as an important topic in their community; the need to talk about stress with family or friends; and reaching out to someone if feeling hopeless or having suicidal thoughts. Similarly, theater event participants demonstrated statistically significant increases in behavioral intention regarding use of self-care to improve mental well-being; seeking resources to prevent suicide; talking and asking family and friends about their stress; telling someone if they are having suicidal thoughts; and using examples from the dinner theater to manage their stress. Many key take home messages participants planned to use included the importance of talking about stress, taking care of themselves, and seeking help from family and friends.

Six months after the dinner theater, an evaluation was mailed to all participants. Results from the returned evaluations revealed: 97 percent of participants now set aside time for themselves as an effective self-care tool; more than half of participants now exercise regularly and talk to others about their needs and feelings; 83 percent of participants report talking to others about mental health, suicide, communication skills, and coping techniques. Most respondents report feeling more confident in recognizing stress, anxiety, and depression in themselves and others, talking with others who may be experiencing stress or a crisis, and helping others under stress or in a crisis. One participant shared: “I learned there are places to contact if someone needs help. How to approach and talk to them about their mental health.” Another shared they understand “Don’t hesitate to ask someone who seems depressed if they have been thinking about suicide.” One 12-year-old skit participant shared “It was important for me to help show people that asking for help is okay. I see a lot of adults stressed out and I never want them to think that they are alone, and no one cares." An adult skit writer and participant shared: "The preparation for the B.A.R.N. Dinner Theatre opened my eyes to some struggles I hadn't realized were in my community. Being able to create a skit that shows compassion, empathy, and grace, it's my hope that the a This mental-health, well-being, and suicide prevention program was expanded to include a more general target audience with the hopes of other areas of the state or country replicating it in their own communities. Awareness and personal plans of action are critical to stemming the tide of the effects of stress and poor mental health on our residents. This mental-health, well-being, and suicide prevention program was expanded to include a more general target audience with the hopes of other areas of the state or country replicating it in their own communities. Awareness and personal plans of action are critical to stemming the tide of the effects of stress and poor mental health on our residents. Attendees left feeling a little less alone." 

This mental-health, well-being, and suicide prevention program was expanded to include a more general target audience with the hopes of other areas of the state or country replicating it in their own communities. Awareness and personal plans of action are critical to stemming the tide of the effects of stress and poor mental health on our residents.

 






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