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Mental Health in Rural America

Rural America often faces a shortage of mental health care. Farming is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and many farmers are suffering because of the intense stress. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin says the Farmers First Act of 2023 is bipartisan legislation designed to help those who need it.

Baldwin; “We have a mental health crisis in our rural communities, and it disproportionately impacts farmers and farm workers, where the suicide rate is almost three and a half times the national average. But you think about farming and oftentimes there are really difficult circumstances, whether that’s long hours, being isolated, heavy physical labor, and all the headwinds that farmers are facing in terms of just getting ahead.”

She says the Farmers First Act provides resources where they’re needed the most; “Farmers First tries to match the resources so that no one needs to go through these struggles alone. It does so in a variety of ways, through grant programs to make sure that resources are available when a mental health crisis hits.”

The funds are intended to be used at the local level when people need somewhere to turn for help. Baldwin; “This legislation provides resources so that more folks in rural communities can recognize the signs of someone who’s struggling with their mental health and get them help. And these grants can fund everything from increasing what we might say mental health literacy so that people can recognize telltale signs, but also fund things like toll-free crisis lines and farmers support groups.”

Story provided by NAFB News Service and Brian Winnekins, WRDN, Durand, Wisconsin

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