By Sunny Anderson
The lack of an organization providing mental health services for the farm population in the state has prompted the Illinois Farm Bureau (ILFB) to partner with various mental health groups to provide information and resources on mental health to farm families across the state.
The ILFB launched this effort with the Illinois Ag Mental Health Summit, where mental health professionals and farmers met to discuss the unique issues and challenges facing farmers. ILFB worked alongside Illinois AgrAbility and University of Illinois Extension for the event, which focused on relationship nurturing and resource development.
Attendees at the Illinois Ag Mental Health Summit included physicians, mental health professionals, farmers, and agriculture industry professionals. The roundtables and resource sharing resulted in the production of letters highlighting the importance of mental health awareness in the agriculture industry. Over 3,000 letters were sent to front line agricultural workers.
Following the summit, the ILFB created brochures on mental health resources, provided wellness tools on their website, held workshops and published articles on mental health resources for industry professionals.
Furthermore hotline pilot program provides Illinois farmers with access to mental health support, financial resources, and general health information.
The Farmer Mental Health Program earned the Illinois Farm Bureau a 2022 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which recognizes state agricultural bureaus with the most innovative new programs, is presented annually at the AFBF convention.
Sunny Andersen, a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is an intern in the communications department of the American Farm Bureau Federation.