May is Mental Health Awareness month and also coincides with the spring planting season. Spring and fall are often the most stressful times for farmers and this year is no exception. The late start to spring has left many Illinois farmers scrambling to get their crops in the ground, causing stress to many in our rural communities.
In 2019, the Farm Family Resource Initiative (FFRI) was established in Illinois to specifically address mental health needs of farming and agricultural communities. Led by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, the FFRI launched a six-county pilot program to provide resources to Christian, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Morgan, and Sangamon counties through a telephone hotline connecting farmers with mental health resources and providers.
Funded through a USDA grant, FFRI expanded to all 102 counties in 2021. During the last legislative session, the Illinois General Assembly appropriated an additional $500,000 to ensure the program remains operational in all 102 counties throughout fiscal year 2023.
To highlight the need for mental health assistance in our farming communities, Director Costello along with members from SIU School of Medicine, University of Illinois-Extension, local legislators and mental health professionals are traveling around the state to promote FFRI.
The group will make seven stops across the state:
- May 10th – UnityPoint Health Methodist Atrium, Peoria- 10am
- May 10th - Illinois Department of Agriculture, Springfield- 2pm
- May 12th - NRERC at SIUE, Edwardsville- 10am
- May 16th - SIUC University Farms Service Center, Carbondale- 10am
- May 17th – University of Illinois ACES Library, Urbana- 10am
- May 17th - Kankakee County U of I Extension Office, Kankakee- 2pm
- May 18th – John Deere World Headquarters Display Floor, Moline-10am
To learn more about the Farm Family Resource Initiative visit https://www.siumed.edu/farm.
Full Illinois Department of Agriculture Press Release