New program offers free mental health care services to farmers, their families
URBANA – Farming is stressful, and the Illinois agriculture community faces unique challenges every day that take a toll on mental health.
A new program from University of Illinois Extension gives farmers and their families access to professional mental health care for free.
The Illinois Agricultural Mental Health Voucher Program broadens access to care by connecting producers with local mental health professionals.
Agricultural producers, workers, and their family members can request vouchers that can be redeemed for three behavioral health sessions, either in person or online.
Research shows agriculture workers have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and deaths by suicide compared to the general population.
Josie Rudolphi, an agriculture and biological engineering assistant professor and University of Illinois Extension specialist, says Illinois farmers also face many barriers to getting mental health care such as cost, insurance coverage and access.
“Many people are unsure whether their insurance covers mental health care, as well as availability; many are not sure where or how to find a therapist,” Rudolphi says. “The voucher program works to reduce some of the barriers that preclude agricultural producers, workers and their family members from accessing help.”
Kacie Hulshof, Illinois Agricultural Mental Health Voucher program coordinator, says the program is unique because it has established a network of participating Illinois mental health providers.
“Producers who may otherwise not have access can seek help free of charge from established, certified professionals without the need for medical insurance,” Hulshof says.
The voucher request form and more information can be found at go.illinois.edu/FarmStressVoucher. Independent providers and agencies who are interested in enrolling can email email@example.com to see if they are eligible.
The program was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Through the grant, Illinois Extension offers several programs to help people who work in agriculture to learn more about stress and stress management, as well as programs for agricultural community members and mental health providers to learn more about mental health and how to help someone who is struggling or in crisis.
More information about the program is available online at publish.illinois.edu/FarmStress.