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Naig Announces New Farmer Mental Health Support Programs
Iowa Ag Connection - 09/24/2021

As part of National Farm Safety and Health Week, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig Thursday announced the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has been awarded a $500,000 grant to expand farmer mental health support programs in Iowa. The department will partner with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help raise awareness about mental health and wellness resources, and help make them more accessible to farmers and rural communities.

Farmer sitting in tractor by katrinaelena/stock.adobe.com."We all need help from time to time and farmers and landowners are no exception. Some of the challenges they face are unique, like long-term financial stress, unpredictable weather and market uncertainty. We want anyone dealing with added stress and mental health challenges to know that they are not alone," said Naig. "We are proud to partner with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help make mental health and wellness resources more accessible to farmers and our rural communities."

"While commodity prices have improved over the last year, the derecho a year ago and the drought that has spanned both years has impacted many Iowa farmers. These resources can help farmers and farm families deal with the added stress," said John Lawrence, Iowa State University vice president for extension and outreach. "Those who work with farmers will have access to tools to help them recognize mental health concerns and offer appropriate assistance."

Through this grant, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff will offer community outreach and programming to individuals involved in agriculture and those who support them. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will also conduct facilitator training for programs focused on strengthening families. Farmer resource packets will be available with information on how to access stress assistance, wellness and family finance programming.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship applied for this grant through the "Farm and Ranch Assistance Network" program. Funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The initiative builds upon recent Iowa State University Extension and Outreach efforts in this area, including:

- expanding Mental Health First Aid and Question. Persuade. Refer. facilitators and training,

- providing Mental Health First Aid and QPR to those involved in agriculture, their advocates and youth professionals serving rural areas of the state,

- developing a web-based presence to support resource and information sharing, and

- developing a "culture of agriculture" training program directed to mental health and healthcare providers.

Farmers and farm families can find more information about the mental health and wellbeing programs and resources offered through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/mental-health-and-wellbeing and https://www.extension.iastate.edu/sfp10-14/. The Iowa Concern Hotline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-447-1985.


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