Giving Compass' Take:

• The Michigan and Illinois State University Extension Programs created the Rural Resilience online course that makes mental health care more accessible for farmers. 

• What are some of the hurdles that farmers face today? In what ways can donor support help spread awareness about mental health in the agriculture industry? 

• Learn how farmers' mental health is suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural Resilience is a new online course designed to make mental health care more accessible for farmers and rural communities in the United States.

Created by both the Michigan and Illinois State University Extension Programs, the Rural Resilience curriculum helps participants learn to recognize signs of stress, identify effective coping strategies, respond to suicidal behavior, and connect with appropriate resources.

“We are working to destigmatize the illness, and let [farmers] know that resources are available,” says Eric Karbowski, a behavioral health specialist from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension.

The course also offers specialized mental health crisis training for employees of institutions with direct contact with farmers, such as unions, insurance companies, and credit servicers.

“These individuals are key interceptors for recognizing warning signs,” Karbowski tells Food Tank. “The more people we educate [about mental health] the more we can bring awareness to farmers.”

For farmers in rural communities, accessing mental health care can be challenging, says Karbowski. According to a 2018 report from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the majority of rural counties, home to 273,000 small farms, are underserved by mental health practitioners.

Read the full article about rural resilience course by Francesca DiGiorgio at Food Tank.