Taking the Initiative to Help Farmers
Over the past few years, the topic of mental health has become more prevalent in our daily lives. Constant change and stress, compounded by the pandemic, have left many people feeling depressed or anxious – to the point it affects their health. Farmers and those involved in agriculture are not immune to these challenges.
Help is here and it’s only a phone call away. SIU Medicine has new programs to assist farmers and their families and to train medical professionals to understand the specific needs of those in rural areas.
The Farm Family Resource Initiative (FFRI) is a network of support and resources for farmers and their families, including a free helpline (1-833-FARM-SOS). The 24/7 helpline connects you to health professionals who specialize in ag-related stress.
This means you are talking to medical professionals living in Illinois who can relate to the local economy, weather, and other daily stressors specific to our region.
In addition to text, email, and website services, telehealth counseling sessions are available for those in need of additional support. Up to six individual, couple, or group sessions are available at no cost to the farmer or farm family member with the support of grant funding.
FFRI Ag Resource Specialist Karen Stallman lives on a farm in southern Illinois and understands the challenges farm families may encounter.
“Going into harvest, the stress from input costs and availability of supplies, equipment, and parts can make things difficult. Dealing with unpredictable weather is always a challenge, too,” Stallman says.
FFRI also provides opportunities for healthcare professionals to learn more about farming-related issues and earn CME credits through its Rural Community Mental Health program. The virtual training illuminates how mental and physical health issues can impact those working in farming and agriculture. To learn more, visit siumed.edu/cpd.
In addition, the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar Program is available to rural nurses through on-demand webinars. These lessons will increase knowledge in the prevention, identification, and assessment of diseases related to agricultural work exposures. Details are at learning.agrisafe.org/nurse-scholar-program.
Many stressful issues confront those in agriculture. Please check on friends, family members, and neighbors throughout this season. Spread the word about the Farm Family Resource Initiative and encourage others to reach out and talk to someone. It’s free, it’s confidential, and it may save the life of someone you know!