Marshall Expands Resources for Farm Stress and Mental Health Assistance
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Farmer suicides have increased at a faster pace than the general population over the last several years. Making sure farmers and ranchers have adequate access to mental health services can save lives.
The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network and this week U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. sent a letter to House and Senate Leadership requesting continued funding for the program to address the lack of mental health support in rural communities by providing additional resources and services.
Read the letter in its entirety HERE.
“Farmers face uniquely stressful factors on a daily basis, such as financial risks, unpredictable weather and heavy workloads,” said Dr. Marshall in the letter. “Combined with a prolonged downturn in the farm economy and lack of mental health resources in rural areas, mental and emotional wellbeing in farm country is increasingly strained.”
The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network connects farmers, ranchers, and those in agriculture-related fields to stress-assistance programs. The network can help those in need by offering resources like helplines, community outreach and education, support groups, and other services that can help improve mental health. An initial $2 million for the program was awarded to groups throughout the country to begin implementation of the network but more funding is needed to ensure all communities are served.
Thankfully, this is not the only work being done in this important area. Earlier this week, Rep. Marshall participated in an event with Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and Michigan State University Extension to announce the Managing Farm Stress program; a new, private program to train individuals who work with farmers and ranchers to recognize signs of stress and connect those farmers with professionals who can help.
Rep. Marshall's remarks at the event can be seen HERE(11:35 mark).
“I am so proud of the work being done to help our farmers and ranchers,” said Dr. Marshall. “Nearly every corner of the agriculture industry has come together to offer solutions and provide resources for those who are struggling. Our producers work 365 days a year to raise the safest, most affordable, and highest quality food supply in the world. It’s vital we step up and take care of them in this critical time of need.”
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to advance a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking establishing "9-8-8" as a new nationwide, three-digit hotline for mental health and suicide prevention.
“I applaud Chairman Pai and the Commission for considering this important measure and continuing to do their part in providing resources for those who are struggling in Kansas and around the country,” said Dr. Marshall.
Having quick access to help can make all the difference in times of crisis. Earlier this year Congressman Marshall, who is a member of the House Mental Health Caucus, joined as an original co-sponsor of H.R. 4194, which would permanently establish this three digit suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.