News  |  January 16, 2024

Ted Mathews Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

In a heartfelt tribute on National Rural Health Day, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and its partners have recognized four exceptional healthcare professionals, each making significant contributions to the health and well-being of rural communities. Among the honorees, Ted Matthews, the director of Minnesota Rural Mental Health in Hutchinson, stands out as the deserving recipient of the prestigious 2023 Minnesota Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award.

Championing Mental Health Support for Farmers

Ted Matthews’ journey is marked by a deep commitment to providing crucial mental health support to farmers across the state. Recognizing the inherent stress that comes with farming, Matthews has spent over three decades as a rural mental health practitioner, counseling individuals in rural areas. His unique perspective and extensive experience cover a spectrum of challenges, including PTSD, crisis intervention, family issues, suicidology, and domestic abuse.

Breaking Stigma in Farming Communities

One of the significant hurdles Matthews addresses is the stigma surrounding mental health issues within farming communities. He understands the reluctance farmers and their families may have in seeking help. Matthews has become a beacon of support, working tirelessly to break down barriers and normalize mental wellness as an essential goal for everyone in the agricultural industry.

Innovative State-Funded Program

Funded through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Matthews has pioneered an innovative state-funded program that has been a lifeline for farmers for almost two decades. The success of this program can be attributed to its unique features:

  1. No Paperwork, No Fee: Matthews ensures accessibility by eliminating paperwork and fees for farmers and their families.
  2. No Diagnosis Requirement: Unlike traditional approaches, a diagnosis of mental illness is not a prerequisite for receiving services through Matthews’ program.
  3. Comprehensive Understanding: Matthews brings a comprehensive understanding of the emotional, economic, social, psychological, and geographic challenges within the agricultural industry.

Always On the Job

Reflecting the dedication that has defined his career, Matthews is always on the job. He goes beyond the confines of an office, traveling across the state to meet with individuals personally. Furthermore, he extends his availability for consultation by phone 24/7, emphasizing the urgency and importance of mental health support.

Inspiring Others Beyond Minnesota

Matthews’ groundbreaking work has not gone unnoticed. Other states are now expressing interest in adopting this model of care for their farming communities, showcasing the impact and relevance of his innovative approach.

Ted Matthews’ recognition as the recipient of the 2023 Minnesota Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award is a testament to his unwavering dedication, compassion, and transformative impact on mental health within rural communities. His work not only shapes the present but also paves the way for a more supportive and resilient future for farmers across the nation.

If you need to speak with a rural mental health expert or want to find more information visit our Rural Mental Health page. It has a plethora of resources and brochure.

Congratulations to the three other 2023 Minnesota Rural Health award recipients:

  • Ann Bussey – 2023 Minnesota Rural Health Hero Policy Award
  • Shannon Shaw – 2023 Minnesota Rural Health Hero Practitioner Award
  • Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin – 2023 Minnesota Rural Health Team Award

Additional information about each award winner and their photos can be found on the Minnesota Rural Health Awards webpage. The recipients will also be honored during the 2024 Minnesota Rural Health Conference at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, June 17-18, 2024.

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