New Ohio Initiatives to Combat Farm Stress

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COLUMBUS – A new federal grant to the Ohio Department of Agriculture will support and enhance several initiatives to address agricultural stress in Ohio. In partnership with Ohio State University Extension, training will be provided to mental health professionals and other health professionals in Ohio on the stressors and unique factors that influence agricultural producers, other people working in the agricultural sector and agricultural and rural households.

Entitled “Bridging the Gap for Agricultural and Rural Mental Health Training in Ohio,” the $ 500,000 grant was awarded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Department of Agriculture. the United States. Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.

“Our farmers and producers face incredible stressors,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University. “Many farmers face unpredictable problems and concerns on a daily basis regarding personal health and injuries, equipment and parts, animal health, weather and crops,” Kress said.

“COVID-19 has come at an already difficult time for farmers, adding uncertainties and complexities to the supply chain, as well as additional stressors related to health and family issues. Many mental health professionals are untrained and do not have direct experience working with the agricultural sector and its unique challenges. “

This is where OSU Extension, the awareness arm of CFAES, will come in. Kirby Wilkins, Director of the OSU Extension.

“This grant will bring together people and resources to effectively impact stress on the farm and improve well-being. When our farmers are supported, we all benefit.

Within the framework of this project, the responsibilities of OSU Extension will be to:

  • make existing and newly developed curricula for Ohio mental health care providers available for continuing education unit credits related to unique stressors existing in the farming community.
  • start building an infrastructure for the management of CEUs.
  • provide mental health education and awareness programs to the farming community.
  • certify OSU Extension educators as mental health first aid trainers; question, persuade and refer (QPR); trauma-informed care (ICT); and Generation Rx or other relevant training.
  • provide funds for promotional material and media.

This project will build on OSU Extension’s work on two other USDA NIFA Agricultural Stress Grants in the North Central region. One supported the development of a clearinghouse for information on state resources which is available on the CFAES Rural and Agricultural Stress website (u.osu.edu/farmstress).

The second grant supports the creation of the Regional Farm and Ranch Stress Support Center, and provided funding to add a Behavioral Health Specialist position with OSU Extension.

“Mental health is a serious issue that affects many of our farming families and rural communities across the state,” said ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda. “ODA is proud to be a part of Ohio’s effort to lead a team and to devote much-needed resources to resolving this important topic. “

The latest grant will support the expansion of education and training programs designed to strengthen Ohio’s capacity to meet the mental health needs of the farm and rural population, and it will address mental health issues such as death by suicide, depression and anxiety.

OSU Extension will work with ODA on marketing and outreach strategies.

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