COMET – Changing Our Mental and Emotional Trajectory

“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.” – Dean Jackson

COMET™ is a short, two-hour program offered by UW – Madison Division of Extension educators for the agricultural and rural communities in Wisconsin. The program is a gentle introduction to supporting friends and neighbors in a vulnerable space to help them shift their mental health trajectory back to a place of wellness and away from the path of a mental health crisis. This program was developed by the High Plains Research Network Community Advisory Council specifically for rural communities.   

Observation is a skill that many farmers may not realize they have. It is ingrained in their daily work lives. From noticing a sick animal before it has a fever to an early sign of insects on a crop, these early observations can lead to early treatment and better outcomes. Farmers cans use this same skill to notice when their friends, family, neighbors, or employees are not themselves.

COMET™ helps people take the next step after noticing someone might be struggling. It empowers friends and neighbors to be more prepared to support others’ mental health needs – especially before a crisis. This training empowers people to feel comfortable initiating a supportive but potentially emotional conversation using a conversational seven-question guide. It provides an easy way to start a conversation, teaches you how to exit the conversation in a supportive way, and offers resources to share with others if they need more than a listening ear.

Why COMET™?
Multiple challenges face rural communities in accessing mental health. Existing resources and trainings often focus on crisis needs and immediate suicide risk. However, many people suffer from distress and moderate depression or anxiety, sometimes acutely and/or undiagnosed, that significantly impact their health and well-being. COMET™ fills that gap in resources for people in this vulnerable space and aims to prevent crisis.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension is partnering with Farm Well Wisconsin and the High Plains Research Network Community Advisory Council to offer this training to rural and farming communities in Wisconsin. There are several Extension staff and community partners providing the training across the state.

Upcoming Trainings:

  • Friday, October 7, 2022, 12:30 – 2:30 pm – Live on-line training via Zoom platform. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Bev Doll, Human Development and Relationships Educator in Grant County, and Bridget Mouchon, Health & Well Being Educator for Green and Lafayette Counties.
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 12:30 – 2:30 pm – Live on-line training via Zoom platform. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Amanda Griswold, Human Development and Relationships Educator in Crawford County, and Carolyn Ihde, Agriculture Educator for Crawford and Richland Counties.
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 5:30 – 7:30 pmIn-person training at Crawford County Administration Building, 225 North Beaumont Road, Prairie du Chien, WI. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Amanda Griswold, Human Development and Relationships Educator in Crawford County, and Carolyn Ihde, Agriculture Educator for Crawford and Richland Counties.
  • Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 12:00 – 2:00 pmIn-person training at Crawford County Administration Building, 225 North Beaumont Road, Prairie du Chien, WI. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Amanda Griswold, Human Development and Relationships Educator in Crawford County, and Carolyn Ihde, Agriculture Educator for Crawford and Richland Counties.
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 6:30pm – 8:30 pm – Live on-line training via Zoom platform. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Amanda Griswold, Human Development and Relationships Educator in Crawford County, and Carolyn Ihde, Agriculture Educator for Crawford and Richland Counties.
  • Thursday, December 8, 2022, 12:30 – 2:30 pm – Live on-line training via Zoom platform. Register by completing this online registration form. This training is at no cost to participants. Instructors for this session are Joy Kirkpatrick, Farm Succession Outreach Specialist, and Stef Morrill, Executive Director of the non-profit organization, River Valley Commons.

This educational program is supported by USDA-NIFA 2020-70028-32728 through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network funding.

The program can be offered in-person as a standalone workshop, attached to a larger conference, or on a virtual platform. The maximum number of participants for any of these formats is 30. For more information or to request either an in-person or virtual a training for your local organization contact Carolyn Ihde (carolyn.ihde@wisc.edu) or Amanda Griswold (amanda.griswold@wisc.edu) or by calling 608-326-0223.