Twelve states will work together on the North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center
By Diego Flammini
Mental health professionals from 12 states are working together to develop and compile resources to help the ag community.
With a $7.2-million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, the North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center (NCFRSAC) will expand current services and create new ones where gaps exist.
“A key objective is to support telephone help lines,” Dr. Josie Rudolphi, an assistant professor in agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois, told Farms.com. “We’re going to be supporting the Iowa Concern Hotline, a well-established farm stress hotline that takes calls from all farmers.”
Dr. Rudolphi is leading the project in collaboration with other professionals from within the North Central region.
The region stretches from the Dakotas to Kansas to Ohio and north to the Canadian border.
Another goal of the NCFRSAC is to consolidate multiple farm stress resources into one place to make them easily accessible.
“We want to catalog the available resources to create a one-stop shop for people looking for topics, whether that’s specific to a state, an audience or a certain farm stress topic,” she said.
A monthly newsletter will also be part of the equation to inform recipients about where to find mental health assistance and to share findings from research projects, Rudolphi added.
Rudolphi has noticed a shift in how mental health resources are created.
More specialized assistance can be of benefit to different people, she said.
“We’re starting to tailor our resources based on the fact that people have individual needs, whether that’s based on their occupation, gender or race,” she said. “I think creating resources that are as specific as possible to the individual is important and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
Rudolphi has noticed a change in the way mental health is talked about.
The pandemic is affecting mental health, and people have been more open to conversations, she said.
“I think we’re definitely talking about it more and realizing that everybody’s mental health is probably struggling a little bit because of COVID-19,” she said. “We’ve put a lot more energy into talking about mental health and recognizing the signs of mental health.”
A full list of mental health and suicide prevention resources can be found here.