Farmer mental health initiatives are growing


Illinois Department of Agriculture director Jerry Costello II announced a $ 500,000 grant to increase stress-related mental health initiatives for farmers statewide.

In 2019, the Farm Family Resource Initiative was established in Illinois to specifically address the mental health needs of farming and farming communities. The Farm Family Resource Initiative Committee is made up of members of government, producer groups, academic institutions, health and industry.

Led by the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, the Farm Family Resource Initiative launched a pilot program in six counties to provide resources to Christian, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Morgan and Sangamon counties via a hotline connecting the farmers to mental health resources and providers.

This grant will allow the pilot program to be extended statewide.

Additional plans for grant funding include:

• SMS and e-mail communication options (in addition to the telephone hotline)

• increased marketing of the helpline

• voucher program for professional behavioral health services

• agricultural literacy training for mental health providers to increase knowledge of the farming community

• other first aid training in mental health for members of the farming community

“As governor, I have sought to make Illinois a state where mental health care should not and cannot be treated as a secondary health service,” Governor JB Pritzker said. “This includes adapting mental health resources to better support our farmers and farming families, whose industry keeps everyone afloat. I am proud to extend our Farm Family Resource Initiative to all of our 102 counties to ensure our rural communities receive the care they deserve.

“Illinois is uniquely positioned with farmer mental health initiatives already in place,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “This award enables state-wide programmatic expansion tailored to the needs of the farming community.”

“Small farms are the heart of our state’s economy, and farmers are on the front lines in providing food to our communities. The reality of this pandemic is that a new layer of stress has been imposed on farmers and farm families, ”said Senator Scott Bennett. “These additional funds for the Farm Family Resource Initiative will give farmers the support they need to help them recognize and navigate these unprecedented times.”

“The mission of the SIU School of Medicine is to optimize the health of central and southern Illinois. The Farm Family Resource Initiative is one of the best ways to serve the region and the rural families who have been the backbone of many of the communities we serve, ”said Jerry Kruse, president of the School of Medicine. ‘UES. “With partners like the Illinois Department of Agriculture, we can advance the health of farm families.”

“Farmers, ranchers and producers give so much of themselves to produce the food we eat and to be good stewards of the land on which Illinois agriculture thrives,” said Shelly Nickols Richardson, Dean associate and director of extension at the University of Illinois. “When mental health issues affect our farmers, it affects us all. This grant will provide the resources our farmers, their families and their communities need to stay mentally and emotionally healthy because they contribute so much to so many people.

The Farmer Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-833-FARM-SOS.

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