The Innovations Fund

Phases: 2020, 2021

School Nurses to BARN Camp for the Mental Health and Wellness of Kentucky Youth

Project Description:



The Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition will partner with the University of Kentucky College of Nursing to implement a mental health and wellness training for school nurses with the goal of decreasing youth suicide in the state, which far exceeds the national average. This project expands on the Bringing Action Right Now, or BARN, initiative aimed at addressing health equity via social isolation awareness and training. Project leaders will recruit 100 school nurses to participate in the program and will work with a variety of community stakeholders, including the Actors Theatre of Louisville.



The “Kentucky Partners to the BARN” (Bringing Awareness Right Now) program successfully raised awareness about mental health and wellness and specifically suicide prevention with the farm community in four communities in rural Kentucky. This program culminated with a BARN Farm Dinner Theatre with a performance by the students.

Summary of completed project

More than 30 students who had an interest in a career in agriculture and were active in their local 4-H organization participated in the BARN Camp for youth. They were trained in suicide prevention/mental health awareness. They also learned how to write the play and present the skit.

The BARN Farm Dinner Theatre was held two times in two locations. In total, 255 people attended the dinners, which exceeded their initial estimate of 100. The skits the students created included stressors specific to farm families as well as ways to address them. Guided discussions took place after each skit.

The BARN model will be shared with southern states through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network which is being developed. A toolkit is also being developed to support mental health awareness programming. The County Extension Office is working on a train-the-trainer program.


The process of using the BARN model to address health, wellness and suicide prevention, with students as the script writers and actors, was an effective way to reach within a community (in this case the farm community) and give them the tools they need to be able to recognize when someone is exhibiting suicidal thinking and the steps to take to assist them.

Some of the early successes of this work include increased awareness of mental health issues, as reported by participants in post-event surveys. Additionally, the participating counties used this project as an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health and well-being and suicide prevention through targeted gatherings and strategic planning efforts. The steps for replication and expansion are in place through the partnership with the County Extension Office.

The project lead posted an op-ed in the Lexington Herald Leader on farmer suicide on Farmer Suicide Prevention Day.