Iowa Ag Chief Touts Success of Farmer Mental Health Program
DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa farmers are reaping the benefits of a new mental health and wellness and stress assistance program, according to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.
The program, Farm and Ranch Wellness: Meeting Local Needs, started in August 2021, just after the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a $500,000 grant to expand farmer mental health support programs.
Since then, the department has partnered with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help raise awareness about mental health and wellness resources and make them more accessible to farmers and rural communities.
“We want anyone dealing with stress and mental health challenges to know that they are not alone,” Naig said in a written statement.
“This successful partnership between the department and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has helped to ensure that mental health and wellness resources are available and accessible to farm families and residents of our rural communities across our state,” he said.
Through this grant, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff have provided more than 1,500 direct one-on-one local consultations and nearly 6,000 group consultations across the state, sharing key farm stress resources.
Individual contacts have been made with veterinarian offices, cooperatives, banks and credit unions, certified public accountants, crop production services, Farm Service Agency offices, Farm Credit Service offices, local seed companies, farm implement dealers and many others.
Group consultations have been offered at Private Pesticide Applicator, Farmland Leasing and Annie’s Project meetings, as well as to county extension councils and Rotary clubs, among others. During these consultations and meetings, more than 25,000 farm stress resource publications have been shared.
“What is important is that we put a list of exceptional resources into the hands of individuals and businesses who could most benefit,” said Dr. David Brown, behavioral health state specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Our farmers, ranchers and producers are still being impacted by the lingering effects of COVID-19, drought and high input costs, and can still benefit from stress assistance and other forms of support,” he said.