Minnesota Pork Board and Minnesota Pork Producers Association Pledges $300,000

Minnesota State University, Mankato President Edward Inch announced today that Minnesota Pork Board and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association (Minnesota Pork) has pledged $300,000 over three years to establish the operational structure and advance the growth of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Rural Behavioral Health at the University.

This collaboration between the University and Minnesota Pork will promote the mission of the Center, which aims to improve access to mental health care in rural and outstate Minnesota.

“We are grateful to Minnesota Pork for its partnership in supporting mental health resources through the Center for Rural Behavioral Health,” said Inch. “The agricultural community plays a vital role in our region, and Minnesota State Mankato is proud to partner with Minnesota Pork to offer services that help strengthen our farm families.”

This partnership will help the Center study and disseminate evidence-based mental health resources within the agriculture industry, said Thad Shunkwiler, founding director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Rural Behavioral Health at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The agricultural community continues to experience significant challenges related to mental health,” said Shunkwiler. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agricultural industry has the highest rate of suicide when compared to all other occupations. Compounding the issue, access to behavioral health services within rural communities has never been more difficult.”

Jill Resler, CEO of Minnesota Pork, said the collaboration with Minnesota State Mankato is important to help address mental health challenges in the agriculture industry.

“Farming is more than a career; it’s a purpose, a passion, a legacy. During challenging times, the weight can be heavy,” said Resler. “It is our hope that through this partnership with the Center for Rural Behavioral Health we are able to increase accessible, relevant, and vital resources to support wellness for all members of our rural communities.”

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Rural Behavioral Health at Minnesota State University, Mankato is part of the University’s College of Allied Health and Nursing.