state program helps farmers with mental health issues | Granite City News


Spring planting season can be stressful for farmers and now an Illinois program designed to address mental health issues is getting a financial boost.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture and Southern Illinois University have partnered for the Farm Family Resource Initiative (FFRI). The program gives farm families a way to connect to resources for mental health help.

“The initiative has many resources and the centerpiece of our initiative is easily an anonymous 24/7 helpline, said program director Karen Leavitt Stallman.

In addition to the hotline, the program also offers individual, couple or group counseling sessions to farmers or their family members. The initiative was launched in six counties in 2019, but with funds from a USDA grant, the program has expanded to all 102 counties.

During the last legislative session, the General Assembly allocated an additional $500,000 to ensure the program remains operational in all 102 counties through fiscal year 2023.

To highlight the need for mental health assistance in our agricultural communities, Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello, along with members of the SIU School of Medicine, U of I Extension, local legislators and mental health professionals, travel the state to promote FFRI.

This week they will stop at Urbana at the University of Illinois on Tuesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., at the U of I Kankakee County Extension Office at 2 p.m. the same day, and the Wednesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. at John Deere Headquarters in Moline.

“In just a few years, FFRI has already helped many people in our farming communities,” Costello said. .”

To learn more about the program, visit


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