Greetings all!! I’m happy to introduce you all to myself and my newest concept for a blog… Ag State of Mind. I will focus on writing about breaking the stigma surrounding discussing and dealing with mental health in agriculture. I believe I approach this subject from a unique perspective being both a health care professional (pharmacist) and a livestock producer (cow-calf operator). I also hope to provide insight into my own struggles with dealing with anxiety and depression and share with you some of the solutions I’ve come up with in dealing with these issues.
Who am I?
My name is Jason Medows and I was born and raised in Crawford County Missouri on a cow-calf operation. I grew up passively involved in agriculture. I would do my part in helping my dad feed cows in the winter and put up hay in the summer. I also would show animals at the county fair in the summertime. However, in my formitive years, agriculture was never something I was truly passionate about. I was more interested in sports and girls. 🙂
I graduated from high school and moved to St. Louis to attend pharmacy school in 2002. Ironically, (or maybe not) it was this move to the city that made me realize how much I enjoyed life in the country. Soon after I began my second year of college, my dad encouraged me to secure a first time farmer loan to buy my first set of cows. My dad traded him feeding the cows during the week in the winter while II was at school for me coming home each weekend and school break to help him full time. Needless to say, I was involved in year round education of some sort.
I graduated pharmacy school in 2008 and came directly back home to the farm in Crawford County. I began working as a pharmacist at what was then Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, Mo. Soon after moving home, I met my wife to be Keri, a recently graduated RN. Now, close to 12 years later, we have a home with 4 boys… Levi, Carter, Cooper, & Boone, and a cow-calf operation of our own.
Why Mental Health and Agriculture?
Throughout my time in college and in my profession, I have wanted to somehow combine my formal education as a pharmacist with my passion for cattle ranching and agriculture in general. Well, in July of 2019 I had the idea of beginning a blog. We were on a trip to Dallas for Keri to attend Rachel Hollis’ Rise women’s conference. Over the past couple of years, I had found myself becoming more and more passionate about the area of mental health. With the ongoing mental health epidemic and its effects on farmer/ranchers, I knew I wanted to focus my attention on this crisis.
Since I have graduated college, I have seen the landscape of the ag industry change dramatically. I’ve seen peaks and valleys in prices and profitability that were unprecedented in my lifetime. Locally, I’ve seen vast tracts of land bought up by city transplants trying to capture the romanticism of rural living. Unfortunately, this has caused a staggering increase in the price of farm/pasture land. In turn, it has made farming full time without the aid of an off farm income almost impossible.
Sadly, I have been recently reading more and more about depression and suicide associated with the ag community. This is a serious concern that I don’t think is being adequately managed. I believe there is a void to be filled by folks in both the ag and medical communities. This is where I believe I have a unique perspective, being an active member of both communities.
What to expect?
As previosly stated, I have a unique perspective being both a medical professional and an agriculture producer. Matching those with my own struggles with anxiety and depression, I will offer a perspective on mental health in ag that will be difficult to duplicate.
My vision is to highlight articles and studies that deal with mental health, as well as offer some insight of my own from both a medical and farming perspective. I also am in the process of beginning a podcast that will interview both medical professionals and producers. My vision is to strive for both myself and the guests of my podcast to be open and honest about their struggles and the struggles they’ve seen in others. I will also discuss how overcoming these struggles has enhanced the quality of their lives.
Imagine a group of producers sitting in a coffee shop. The dialogue is what you would expect from a group such as this. They are discussing the weather, feeder cattle futures, price of corn, high school sports, the upcoming county fair, etc. My goal is for these same men/women to include mental health in these discussions as freely as they would any of the aforementioned subjects. I believe this is a lofty goal. However, we have to begin the conversation. We have to make this a normal part of our dialogue.
Thank you for taking the time to read my introductory post. I hope you have gained some understanding of what it is I am trying to accomplish here at Ag State of Mind. I encourage you to please subscribe to my blog and to stay tuned for my upcoming podcast. I’m very excited for what this new venture will accomplish for mental health awareness in the ag community.