Thursday, September 24, 2020

New online course aimed at making mental-health care more accessible to farmers and other rural residents

A new online course, Rural Resilience, aims to make mental-health care more accessible to farmers and other rural Americans. The program, created by the Michigan State University and Illinois State University Extension programs, "helps participants learn to recognize signs of stress, identify effective coping strategies, respond to suicidal behavior, and connect with appropriate resources," Foodtank reports. "The course also offers specialized mental health crisis training for employees of institutions with direct contact with farmers, such as unions, insurance companies, and credit servicers."

The majority of rural counties, home to 273,000 small farms, don't have enough mental-health care practictioners, according to a 2018 report from the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. "Compounding the problem, some farmers lack health insurance coverage for mental health care. Instead, these services can require out of pocket payments, which 87 percent of farmers agree is a barrier to treatment, according to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation," Foodtank reports.

Stigma can also prevent many farmers from seeking help, but leaving mental-health problems untreated can be deadly: farmers have a higher suicide rate than the general population, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Foodtank reports.

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