Illinois taking multi-generational approach to rural mental health assistance

Government leaders in Illinois are soliciting ideas from youth in agriculture to help expand access to rural mental health resources.

During the 2023 Farm Progress show Governor JB Pritzker announced a new Rural Mental Health Grant Program funding up to 20 grants at $1,000 each to support FFA chapters in implementing local initiatives that expand access to mental health resources.

Pritzker says young adults can play an important role in eliminating the negative stigma often associated with mental health. “They’re not burdened by the same hesitancy in accessing mental health services as generations past. They speak freely and candidly and empathetically about mental health struggles, and it’s made them experts of sorts and advocates.”

Southern Illinois University President Daniel Mahoney says experts at their Center for Rural Health support the approach. “Now working with the Illinois FFA chapters, we have the opportunity to expand our impact by engaging youth in a multi-generational approach to mental health and wellness.”

Illinois leaders launched a Farm Family Resource Initiative pilot program during the 2021 Farm Progress Show that has now evolved into a permanent resource across the state including a mental health hotline with phone, text and email options as well as six free telehealth visits to those in need.

Farmers and rural residents can access the hotline at 1-833-FARMSOS.

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