GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Agriculture is preparing to launch a stress counseling program to help farmers and ranchers deal with stress.
The agency recently secured a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm & Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), a program authorized through the federal Farm Bill to connect individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs.
The agency website explains:
Caring for a farm or agri-business is hard work. Farmers and ranchers tackle the essentials of caring for and managing animals, crops, and employees every day. At the same time, ag producers often deal with work-related family dynamics, climate and seasonal issues, or financial stressors, such as changing commodity prices. MSU Extension has sought input from agricultural organizations, educators, health professionals and local Montana farmers and ranchers to identify the specific situations causing stress, and to put together a set of tools to help our Montana agricultural community better manage and cope with the stressors they might be experiencing. Our aim is to provide helpful information to farmers and ranchers, rural or subsistence farmers, in addition to their family members and loved ones.
“It’s a $500,000 grant and it’s the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network and it’s really a three-pronged approach to addressing the mental health issues that we find in the agricultural industry,” explained Christy Clark, the acting director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.
A mini-grant program is also part of this grant, allowing organizations to bring in a mental health speaker.
"We're seeking a healthcare organization that is Montana-focused, has some agricultural understanding, and then really important for us is to be able to provide telehealth, telehealth mental health counseling, because a lot of these areas are rural,” Clark said about the healthcare organization the department hopes to partner with.
The deadline for healthcare organizations to apply is December 6.
For more information, click here to visit the Montana Farm & Ranch Stress Assistance website.