By Sunny Andersen
The lack of an organization that provided mental health services geared toward the agricultural population in the state prompted the Illinois Farm Bureau (ILFB) to partner with various mental health groups to provide mental health information and resources to farm families across the state.
ILFB kicked off this effort with the Illinois Ag Mental Health Summit, during which mental health professionals and agriculturists met to discuss the unique issues and challenges farmers face. ILFB worked alongside Illinois AgrAbility and University of Illinois Extension for the event, which focused on nurturing relationships and resource development.
Attendees of the Illinois Ag Mental Health Summit included doctors, mental health professionals, farmers and agriculture industry professionals. Panel discussions and resource sharing allowed for the production of letters outlining the importance of mental health awareness in the agriculture industry. Over 3,000 letters were sent to front line agriculture workers.
Following the summit, ILFB created mental health resource brochures, provided wellness tools on their website, hosted workshops and published articles about mental health resources for those in the industry.
In addition, a hotline pilot program provides Illinois farmers access to mental health support, financial resources and general health information.
The Farmer Mental Health Program garnered the Illinois Farm Bureau a 2022 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which honors state Farm Bureaus with the most innovative new programs, is presented annually at the AFBF Convention.
Sunny Andersen, a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is an intern in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Communications Department.