Alumnus Addresses Mental Health Concerns in the Ag Industry

Published on 01 April 2021

It’s not every day that you meet a pharmacist, podcaster, small business owner and third-generation cattle herder. When Jason Medows, Pharm.D. ’08, isn’t waking up at dawn to care for his cattle, he’s working as the employee pharmacy manager at Phelps Health in Rolla, Missouri.

Combining his career in pharmacy, lifelong love of cattle herding and connection to rural America, he created the Ag State of Mind podcast, which focuses on addressing mental health issues within the agriculture industry.

“Accessibility to mental health resources can be challenging in rural communities,” Medows said. “Pharmacists are among the most accessible health care professionals and people come to us when they need immediate help or can’t get in to the doctor.”

Medows explains that his personal experience with anxiety, position as a pharmacist and lifelong career as a cattle producer provides him with a unique understanding of the stigma surrounding mental health that exists within the agricultural industry. The lack of access to mental health resources, isolation and pressure that farmers face daily can lead to anxiety, depression or suicide.

“I have a multifaceted approach to my podcast. First, as a health care professional I know how the health care system works and the importance of healthy living. I am also an ag producer, and have a good size operation now and grew up on an even larger cattle farm so I understand the need for mental health resources within the industry. Lastly, I have struggled myself and have been through a lot of the same things that most farmers go through.”

On the podcast, Medows shares ways to improve self-care, mood and overall health and wellness. The podcast provides him with an avenue to share his message with people who may not want to acknowledge that they are struggling with mental health issues or may be apprehensive about seeking out mental health care resources.

“We all go through struggles, but it’s critical for people to know that they are not alone,” he said. “I invite people within the industry to share their stories and ways they are improving their mindset so others can see it’s okay to struggle sometimes. It’s okay to have a bad day. And it’s important to make your mental health a priority.”

Medows also recently opened Kula Yoga and Fitness Studio in Cuba, Missouri with his wife, Keri, to help promote healthy living and mindfulness.

“Pursuing a career in pharmacy changed the trajectory of my life,” he added. “If I didn’t go into pharmacy, I would have never met my wife, opened a yoga studio or started my podcast. I’m grateful for all my career has given me.”

He acknowledges that his education from University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis has led to a rewarding career in pharmacy and provided him with the life skills needed to empathize with others.

“When I attended UHSP, there were students from all different backgrounds and it was exciting to meet people from all over the country and the world who had different ways of living,” he said. “It allowed me to learn that, no matter where we’re from, we all have common ground which makes connecting to people through the podcast a little easier. My time at UHSP helped me become a more well-rounded person.”

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