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OSU Extension's Farm Stress Certification Program: Supporting Mental Health in Agriculture
Ohio Ag Connection - 06/05/2023

The Ohio State University (OSU) Extension has launched a groundbreaking initiative to address mental health challenges in the agricultural community with its Farm Stress Certification program. Developed in response to the need for mental health care providers who can empathize with and understand the unique stressors faced by farmers, the program aims to bridge the gap between mental health care and farming communities.

Led by Bridget Britton, a behavioral health field specialist at the Tuscarawas County Extension office, the Farm Stress Certification program provides crucial education to mental health care providers. The course covers farming basics, such as crop types, farm practices, and the influence of weather on agricultural operations. It also explores the specific stressors that rural communities encounter.

Farmers often hesitate to seek therapy, preferring counseling from professionals who can comprehend their farming background and challenges. The certification program not only equips mental health care providers with farming knowledge but also enhances their understanding of the unique stressors prevalent in rural areas.

Since its launch in 2022, the program has trained over 1,000 providers. The positive response has led to the development of a second certification course that addresses topics like urban agriculture, the experiences of new and beginning farmers, and the specific stressors faced by farmers in the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. This expansion reflects the growing recognition of the mental health needs within the rural and agricultural population.

By empowering mental health care providers to cater to the farming community's specific requirements, the Farm Stress Certification program aims to improve mental well-being within the agricultural sector. The program's success not only benefits individual farmers but also cultivates an environment that encourages seeking help and support, fostering healthier and more resilient farming communities.

If you or someone you know requires immediate help, please call the Ohio CareLine at 1-800-720-9616. The Ohio CareLine, staffed by behavioral health professionals, provides toll-free emotional support and is a service created by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, administered in community settings.

For the National Suicide & Crisis Prevention Lifeline, please call or text 988. The Lifeline offers 24/7, free and confidential support for individuals in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. It also provides best practices for professionals in the field. Remember, help is available, and you don't have to face these challenges alone.

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