NIFA invests in mental health resources

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Nearly $25M in grants provide aid for State Department of Agriculture projects.

The pandemic has caused an increase in stress around the world. Even before the pandemic, stress-related mental health was already a rising concern across U.S. farm communities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture introduced a competitive grants program, the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. Reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, FRSAN supports projects that provide stress assistance for people in farming, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations. The network offers a conduit to improving behavioral health awareness, literacy, and more favorable outcomes for them and their families.

USDA-NIFA announced today an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network State Department of Agriculture projects.

Funded projects must initiate, expand or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance as necessary through farm telephone helplines and websites, training programs and workshops, support groups, and outreach services and activities.

Examples of projects under the grants include:

  • Colorado Department of Agriculture’s project, Colorado Farmer and Rancher Mental Health Support, will expand the vitality and psychosocial wellbeing of Colorado's agricultural workers with community-based efforts to manage the increasing stress on farmers and ranchers.
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture’s project, Georgia Farmer Healthy Mindset, will take a multifaceted approach to address stress and mental health outreach and awareness, programming, capacity building and farmer financial literacy.
  • Maine Department of Agriculture’s project supports Maine farmers through a fellowship program with the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust and community-led food and medicine projects across tribal communities with the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective.
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Bend, Don’t Break project will engage agency, nonprofit, and educational partners in helping farmers and others in agriculture cope with adversity, addressing suicide, farm transition/succession, legal problems, family relationships and youth stress.
  • Washington State Department of Agriculture will collaborate with Washington Department of Health and Washington State University Extension to create two programs to address suicide prevention and behavioral health.
  • Executive Office of the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands will create outreach activities, seminars, training, workshops and resources to allow local farmers to develop a Farm and Stress Assistance Network locally; and collaborate with the FRSAN-Southern Region to respond to the stress experienced by agricultural producers in the U.S. Virgin Islands through prevention, intervention and future mitigation efforts.

For more information, visit NIFA’s website.

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