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Minnesota’s Farmers Get Award-winning Mental Health and Wellness Counseling

People sometimes need maintenance, too

By Meg Moynihan, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) congratulates two agricultural mental health specialists recognized as outstanding providers. Ted Matthews and Monica McConkey provide dedicated counseling services to farmers and farm families throughout Minnesota in an innovative program funded by the State Legislature. Matthews will receive a Minnesota Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award for his work providing mental health support to farmers across the state at the Minnesota Rural Health Conference on June 18. McConkey was named Rural Mental Health Provider of the Year by the Center for Rural Behavioral Health at Minnesota State University - Mankato.

photo of Ted
Ted Matthews

“Farming can be incredibly stressful at times – agricultural producers deal with flooding, drought, unpredictable markets, livestock disease, isolation, regulatory burdens, and many other pressures. Our farmers deserve the best care; we’re proud and grateful to have two of the highest caliber mental health professionals serving their needs,” said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.

photo of Monica
Monica McConkey

“Mental health is crucial for everyone, but it is especially important for our farming community who face unique stressors. This program, led by award-winning specialists like Ted Matthews and Monica McConkey, provides the essential support they need to manage these challenges. Ensuring our farmers have access to top-tier mental health care is not just beneficial—it is vital for the well-being of our entire community”, stated R5DC Executive Director Cheryal Hills.

Matthews and McConkey provide confidential care at no cost – sometimes for one or two sessions, other times on an extended basis. They help clients learn to manage depression, anxiety, anger, marriage and family relationship problems, grief, regret, and other challenging emotions and behaviors. 

Both counselors are happy to meet clients where they are most comfortable – on the farm, at a community college, by phone, or via Zoom. While people are welcome to contact either provider, McConkey generally serves the area north of Highway 12 while Matthews serves the southern part of the state. Contact Ted Matthews at 320-266-2390 and Monica McConkey at 218-280-7785. 

If you need help and are concerned the hour may be too late to call, dial 833-600-2670 to reach the 24/7 Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline or call 988. Other resources are available at


About the Agricultural Mental Health and Wellness Program

Region Five Development Commission facilitates and fiscally administers the Agricultural Mental Health and Wellness Program, funded by the Minnesota Legislature, with support from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and in partnership with the Minnesota State Agricultural Centers of Excellence.


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