You are the key to the entire organization - Josh Dallin #844

Market to Market | Podcast
Apr 16, 2024 | 21 min

This second part of our discussion with Josh Dallin centers more on you. If your farming operation is going to succeed - you need to have a good base and that starts with a strong respect for the importance of mental health. But as with many - reluctance highlights the challenges and stressors across the industry. 


Hello and welcome to the MToM Show podcast. I'm [Yeager]. This is part two of our discussion about mental health, specifically out of Utah. Josh Dallin is our guest. Last week, you heard him talk about a situation involving his brother that certainly got our attention, and we kept going longer than we normally do. And that's why we broke this into two episodes. This week, he's got another testimonial to tell from those producer meetings of just how important the work is done. And again, it all centers around you. If you are not healthy. If you are not of right mind. Everything else is going to struggle. We'll get into that in a little greater detail in this episode with Josh, who is with Utah State Extension and also the Bastian Agricultural center based there at Utah State University. My email is Here is part two with Josh. 

Legacy in any industry has wait for those that it is accurate. Okay, Josh, you a couple minutes ago sounded exactly like I hear every other farmer I call in the Midwest, you this the challenges, the stressors are the same. And I'm gonna guess that this is also true. Are those producers that you talk with and deal with? Are they the same? They don't want anybody to know when they're going to go see the counselor? Or that they need help? And they have that tough facade, too. Is that accurate? 

Josh Dallin: Yeah. So, um, you're 100%. So what we were able to do, if you can imagine we started this right, February 2020s? 

[Yeager]  Well, I know that when you said that I wrote that down is significant. 

[Dallin] We started to get rolling, and then all of a sudden March kaboom. Right. And so we learned quite a bit of things, because we had time. And so we actually did a lot of serving, we did a couple of online trials of, of shortening down the training that the, you know, the Mental Health First Aid training I forgot to mention was, it was two days, and it was a minimum of four hours each day. And if you can imagine trying to pull a producer away for that, it's not going to happen, right. And so we had to figure out based upon our survey results, and response is what it is that we needed to kind of hone in on completely. And what we realized is we have probably about an hour's worth of attention span. Okay, so we really kind of honed in on that. And so we identified from the surveys, and from that, we've got about an hour to teach folks. Again, nobody's going to show up on their own freewill to some mental health thing because of the stigma, right? So that was identified as well. And we know that, you know, we like you're saying nobody, nobody wants anybody to know that they're that they're going to get some help to figure something out. There's a stigma that's associated with it. And so we started to figure out some ways to try and tackle that stigma, because it's like, you know, people need to hear about this. But they're not going to come to us. So how can we go to them in a creative way, and also make it a comfortable setting. So what we started to do is we started to piggyback at the beginning on top of already established programs that folks were going to come to So, hey, we're having a beef health clinic, you betcha. I'm going to join online for that, or I'm going to come in person for that. And as part of the beef help clinic, we're going to do a 45 minute piece on mental health, right. So what ended up happening is we had producers that would go and they would start talking to their friends and say, you know, I went to the beef health clinic. But while I was there, as part of this, this is what they talked about, right? Because when they say that, as silly as it sounds, it's not. I went to a mental health clinic that USU was teaching, I went to the beef clinic. Well, we started to recognize the power in that we started recognize that that was a way that we could help to aid to break the stigma. And we started to share that with the Department of Ag here in Utah and our Commissioner Commissioner Craig Butters, immediately found that that was a great way that we could start to help the producers and Commissioner Butters actually started looking at things he says you know what? He said we have safety credits, continuing education credits that have to be obtained by a lot of our ranchers and farmers for pesticide applicator trainings and those types of things and he said, This mental health stuff should qualify as safety. He said it is just as important as anything else. And so now all of a sudden, not only did we have a thing we were piggybacking on but it became a requirement. So we started to get in front of hundreds of producers, thanks to the Department of Ag across the state to be able to do our training that talked about the science of the symptoms, things to look at. The other thing that we found out really early on is when you try and talk about mental health, if you try and associate it with the individual you're talking to, they respond the same way I did, I'm good, I don't need this. But when we start to talk about maybe this isn't for you, it might be for your brother, or your neighbor or your friend. Right? that completely changes the overall reception, right? So now we've got captive audiences. We're delivering it in ways that our surveys are telling us that we should we're doing it in a short amount of timeframe, that's enough that we capture that. And, and we really started to get a lot of really good feedback, we've started to work with organizations to figure out what's a list that we can compile, and we actually have that on our ag wellness website. So there's a list of different places that people can go, there's, and that list has grown, because at the beginning, there wasn't a lot. And we were seeing a lot more people responding to things. There's the Farm Aid hotline that we were able to have a lot of help with, and getting that started, right. So you can actually within a certain amount of hours, call somebody that's familiar with farming and ranching, this is also a trained professional that can help you walk through some things. There's now text lines that people if they don't want to talk about it, they can text, you know, there's the 988 line, those things have developed, but we would share those things with the folks. And so yeah, that stigma was a big thing. But we felt like we were able to start to break it open, right? Because then again, people can say, well, I was at the pesticide applicator training, and I was required to be there. But I learned this, right, and it made a difference. And what we started to see is, you know, we would go around the state for various other things. I'm a small ruminants specialist. So I'd go to teach about things and people would come up after and they would say, Hey, Josh, I want you to know that we really liked your sheet presentation today. But you know, two months ago, we were sitting in this other one, you might not have known that we were there. And this is a big deal. It's something that we need to hear. And so you know, we think that we started to really kind of soften that, that stigma piece. And then and then it was moving on to the next stumbling block that we needed to look at.

[Yeager]  And I've heard that approach is almost like slipping the medicine into the apple for the horse. It's giving your vegetables in the fruit smoothie, whatever, however it is that we have to take our medicine. But when you have that producer who is willing to stand up and say, I need help, or I dealt with someone we all know, in this room that helps, does that give you credibility as well? And is that the next level of I guess I call it testimonial?

[Dallin]  Yeah, so we ended up having I mean, what would be amazing is, is we would have those producers, while we would do that training, that would be brave enough to raise their hand and share their stories. And as people started to say, oh, gosh, you know, so and so's talking about it. And so and so is talking about it, we would even have had a super powerful testimony that we and we didn't even recognize that this had happened. But we had a producer that lost their middle age to he was an older producer that was there. But he had lost his middle aged son three weeks prior to suicide. And he stood up, you know, with tears in his eyes. And he said, those of you that don't think we need to talk about this, we need to talk about it. You know, I mean, so we start I mean, it really did get the ball rolling, to be able to help people to start to think about it and say no, you know, it's worth getting the help. It's worth making a difference. It's worth using these resources, right? And the one thing that was an indicator that's often hard to it's often hard to, to quantify, because, you know, people will say yes, I learned more from your cert from your training, and I plan on using this stuff, it's great. But we would oftentimes at the end, have our website pulled up with those resources. And we would encourage everybody to take their phones out and take a picture so they could put all those resources in their phones. So they had them available. And it was always amazing to see how many phones came out. Because if it wasn't important, right? I'll figure it out later. Right. But instead, those phones came out those cameras took pictures. It obviously was an indicator to us, Hey, folks have not only learned something but they also know how important it is. Have these resources at their fingertips because they know people that they may need to help or they know there are going to be at this point.

[Yeager]  There's the old adage of if you ignore, if you admit that there is a problem, then that's the first step. Yep, Josh, and the final couple of moments here, talk to the producer that might hear this, who might not think that they are impacted or need assistance on what they should do.

[Dallin] So the title of our training is called the greatest asset is you. Our producers across the country, are some of the most selfless, amazing individuals that exist. They're always putting their crops, their family, their animals, their livestock, whatever it may be first, always. And so it is often hard. When there is a personal struggle to not take the old you know, generations deep adage of pulling up your bootstraps and rubbing some dirt on it and continuing on, right. But the reality is, is six or seven generations ago, they weren't facing the same stress levels, the economy, the crazy, fast paced world that we face. And the reality is, it doesn't matter how great of a producer you are, it doesn't matter how many acres of land you have, it doesn't matter how nice your tractor is, it doesn't matter what genetic merit, you've gotten your livestock, if you are not at 100%, mentally, then all of that will fall. And we forget that, right? Because it's easy as with that selfless attitude, it's so easy to, to just try to keep going. But the reality is, and we see this in our peers, unfortunately, when we don't get the help that we need, when it gets to a certain point. There's a breaking point.

[Yeager]  And frankly Josh, there's still an eye roll moment when you hear the word self care. And that's kind of what you're talking about right there. And that to me is I almost to the point of that that's a problem when someone makes fun of someone else saying, I need self care, I need to take care of myself right now. They see it as selfish. And that I guess, too, is maybe a stigma.

[Dallin] I think it is. And one of the things I guess in our last final minutes that I would talk about that was inspiring is later on after we got these trainings going. USDA actually offered a farm and ranch stress assistance grant that they sent out to states that were willing to participate. And they sent it out through the Department of Ag so went from the United States Department of Ag to the state's Department of Ag and the state, and our UDAF - Utah Department of Ag and food reached out to us and said, What would you do with half a million dollars? You know, you guys have already started this. We've supported it, what would you do? And the end, the thing that we found, our second greatest stumbling block was finance. People, you know, when they learned how much it would cost to go in and see a specialist. Because of that self care stigma. They say no, I'm not going to I'm not going to spend 1000 or $2,000 or less if I have insurance or whatever it may be, I'm not going to do that. I'm fine. And I'll push this off, right? Well, we looked into that. And I said to the Department of Ag I said if we could, I would take a big portion of that money. And I would create a voucher system that would allow for mental health to be paid for, you know, for these for these visits with professionals to be paid for and and if you can imagine taking federal money to a state agency to another state agency, and having HIPAA laws involved at the same time and then still being able to pay for it. It took a lot of intricate work, but we did it. And what was really interesting is we started spring of 2020, 2023 excuse me and really started to advertise and ramp up by summer. You know, wondering, is anybody ever going to take advantage of this by summer we were really rolling by November, the funding was gone. That was close to 260 individuals close to $280,000 spent 1612-ish individual appointments. And the cool thing is even though HIPAA is involved, right now we start to hear the stories. You know, people can reach out and say this did make a difference. This did give me the tools that I need to cope with some of the things I'm dealing with. I was diagnosed with something I've been dealing with my whole life, and I didn't know that I had and now I know how to deal with it. And I can fix some of the things that I'm dealing with, it makes my life easier. It's made me a better producer, a better spouse, a better parent, a better child, right? All of these stories that we're starting to hear and so that alone, I wish that we had continuous and copious amounts of grant money that we can continue that program. And we're looking, I mean, we're just coming off the end of being able to use that. But the story I'm telling to our producers now is, you know, I worked at a vet clinic. And I know how much sometimes a surgery costs when we have a displaced Abul Maysam. Or we have a cow or are you the Scott dystocia, or, you know, even even a family dog or a cat, right, that needs to do whatever. And we do not even hesitate to go in and pay that because that's a part of our operation. That's what we do. Well, if you start figuring out dollars per dollar, we're not far off from an investment in ourselves, to make all the world of difference for decades to come from the point we're at now, right? Decades of your life, that gives you that relationship with somebody that can help you through challenges that you may be facing. And mental health is not you know, a lot of times people compare it oh, well, you know, if you had a tractor fall on your leg and busted it, you'd go to the doctor. Yeah, you would. And oftentimes when a tractor falls on your leg, and it busts it, right, there's a there's a repair, and it there's a there's a period of time of healing, and you're done. You know, one of the things that my brother coined that is really powerful, and I think is important for producers to understand is, he says, and it's, again, something I always think about, it's impossible. That's what he said, It's impossible for a healthy brain to understand an unhealthy brain. And that, to me has been it rings, it rings loud and true all the time. It is impossible for a healthy brain to understand an unhealthy brain. And those that understand an unhealthy brain are those that are professionally trained to understand what that looks like and also professionally trained to help that unhealthy brain find the tools it needs to become healthy. And again, we go back to that greatest asset. Please, please, please remember that without you, being 100%, all the other things start to fall. And if you can make that initial investment and have the courage say hey, I need to figure some things out. It's going to make the world a difference, right? I think we're getting over that stigma. I hear a lot of people talking about, hey, I went and I did this and it made a difference, right? And whether you want to share that or not. That's okay. We also have telehealth options now, thanks to 20, right, that you can sit in your tractor, you can go and park behind the barn, you can have a 30 minute conversation or an hour conversation. And if you need to keep it private for a while, and you want to, if it helps you and you can make it happen, do it. If you need somebody to help you reach out and ask them I promise they will, right. But the reality is, is there are ways that we can confront this, there is no reason in 2024 that we should struggle and suffer as agricultural producers with mental illness, because there are the resources that can help us to get through.

[Yeager]  Josh, I appreciate your time and your insight, and especially what's going on in your area that hopefully someone else you speak to personal stories with your brother, and those producers you deal with I think is a huge help. Josh, thank you so much.

[Dallin]  My pleasure. Thank you.

[Yeager]  What do you think of these items, I'd like to thank our friends in Oklahoma for sending this and if you have something else you want to send to us. Iowa PBS Market to Market TV show, PO Box 6450, Johnston, Iowa 50131. Of these shirts that I'm wearing right here just went out in the mail to a supporter. So send me an email and we'll have a discussion and see if you fall into that same category as our previous person. If you have something you want to send it to us. We'll put it on here and we'll tell the little story of hi behind it when you submit it. My thanks to Josh for that two part discussion. You can watch both those episodes. We also have one with Josie Rudolphi where we talked about what's going on more in the Midwest. We have one more in the series coming up. So stay tuned for that on the new M to M Show podcasts which come out each and every Tuesday. My thanks To David Feingold, today's audio engineer. Our executive producer of the Market to Market TV show is David Miller. I'm Paul Yeager, your producer and host. We'll see you next time bye bye.