Wellness in Tough Times Toolkit

This toolkit is designed to inspire Extension Professionals, non-government organisation members, health care providers and advocates in rural communities, to initiate conversations in rural communities around mental well being.

The Wellness in Tough Times Toolkit is an eFieldbook developed by the University of Nebraska for the American Cooperative Extension Service and published by the Extension Foundation.

It has already had an impact in Australia, e.g.

An Australian team working with rural locations devastated by bush fires were inspired by the “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” project and “Nebraska Extension Cares” resource cards. The team used this information to start “Tailgates4Mates” and adapted the wallet-sized resource cards so they could be shared at events in Australia.

The Toolkit can be accessed here

The Toolkit contains the following sections:

  1. Collaborating with Communities
    • Choosing pilot locations
    • Community advocates are the key to success
  2. Needs assessment and evaluation
  3. Programming
    • Communicating with Farmers under stress
    • Neighbour to Neighbour initiative
    • Wellness in tough times inspires outreach projects in Australia
  4. Community Projects
    • Community-led projects supported by Wellness in Tough Times
    • Read for Resilience:  Books for young children
    • Little free libraries for Communities
    • “Start the Conversation” Bingo
    • Neighbour to Neighbour quarterly Newsletter
  5. Media and Story Telling
    • “Start the Conversation” Bulletins
    • “Nebraska Extension Cares” Resource Cards
    • Public Service Announcements
    • Podcasts
    • Videos
    • Press releases
    • The importance of storytelling

Lessons Learned from the Wellness in Tough Times Project

  • Working in rural communities affected by disaster takes time—plan on years. This is a marathon.
  • Do not attempt this journey on your own. Reach out to partners with similar goals, expertise, and resources, creating a force multiplier.
  • Be strategic. Plan on having to adapt to changing circumstances that are out of your control.
  • Empower the community to help strengthen their resilience, whether that is preparing for the next storm or providing supportive resources and outreach to reduce the stigma around mental well-being.
  • Use a variety of outreach resources. Not everyone is able to access online resources, especially following a disaster or in frontier areas.
  • Celebrate successes and use this as an opportunity to tell a story.
  • Practice self-care and understand that your team members may also be affected by a disaster or struggling with their own mental well-being. Support the team.

The Launch of the Project is Described in this Short Video