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Extension service creates new website for Farm Stress training

Plow, plant and harvest your digital farm in <em>Farming Simulator.</em>
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Plow, plant and harvest your digital farm in Farming Simulator.

Agricultural experts have gone back to the drawing board to create a new website to help farmers manage stress.

Through a collaboration with state and national organizations, MSU Extension’s new website hopes to better connect farmers with mental health services.

The effort started during the financial downturn of 2008 but has once again become the subject of discussion.

Paul Gross is a Field Crops Educator for MSU Extension in Isabella County. He said recent issues have thrust it back into the spotlight.

“There's a number of factors that kind of quieted it down for a while, but, you know, a lot of the challenges that we're having right now, are really kind of coming back to light bringing more emphasis on that,” Gross said.

He said in addition to educating farmers and their families about issues related to mental health, agribusiness personnel are receiving training as well.

“A lot of the agribusiness personnel went through these trainings to kind of just be able to do be a first line of defense, recognize some of those signs and symptoms and, you know, intervene, if possible, in a friendly and non-confrontational manner,” Gross said.

The program offers telemedicine options to help alleviate the stigma related to seeking services, which Gross said has helped farmers feel comfortable with receiving help.

Finding quality insurance is a challenge for farmers, because of this the program helps cover the costs of services for non-insured individuals.

“Unlike a lot of industries, farmers basically have to provide their own health insurance,” Gross said. ‘So, a lot of them have health insurance, but it is not the all-encompassing comprehensive insurances.”

To connect with services in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Sean Chase is from Newaygo, Michigan. He is a senior at Central Michigan University pursuing a journalism degree.