Rochelle Information-Chief | Farm-related stress and psychological well being

Farming is a challenging and sometimes dangerous business. Weather, machinery, logistics and livestock can cause difficulties within a day’s work.

Yet these can pale next to the concerns and stress that a farmer carries inside. Farmers are among the most likely to die by suicide, compared with other occupations, according to a 2022 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also found that suicide rates overall had grown by 40% in less than two decades.

A new support system is available to help the Illinois farming community. It’s as close as your phone. A helpline (1-833-FARM-SOS) will connect farmers to health professionals and services as part of a new statewide program.

The Farm Family Resource Initiative (FFRI) is a joint program of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. SIU’s Center for Rural Health and Social Services Development has created a statewide network of resources to address the mental health needs of the farming and agricultural workforce.
In addition to the 24-hour helpline, farmers can now access free webinars, blogs and trainings on psychological signs of stress at the website

SIU Medicine conducted a needs assessment in 2020 that found two out of three Illinois farmers considered farm-related stress and mental health to be significant problems. In addition to the regular stresses of farm management, the pandemic has created labor and supply chain disruptions.

In 2021, the Illinois Department of Agriculture received a $500,000 USDA grant that allowed expansion of the FFRI’s pilot program. Part of that funding allowed the FFRI to go statewide. The remaining portion went to the University of Illinois Extension for farm mental health programming. The SIU School of Medicine and University of Illinois Extension partner on many efforts.

Mental health professionals from Memorial Behavioral Health in Springfield staff the helpline. The counselors have both medical expertise and knowledge of the factors that affect farming. The phone number is 1-833-327-6767 (1-833-FARM-SOS). A text option is available at the same number. Those who prefer to email can reach call center staff at [email protected]. There are now counseling services available to those seeking additional assistance. The website has new content and resources added regularly.

Please share this information with farmers and their loved ones who may benefit from it. They have friends here and across Illinois who want them to live well and prosper.

Established in 1970, SIU School of Medicine is based in Springfield and Carbondale and focused on the health care needs of downstate Illinois. It educates physicians to practice in Illinois communities and has graduated nearly 3,100 physicians since the first class in 1975.

Driving course

The Ogle County Farm Bureau will be hosting a Defensive Driving Course on July 20 & 21 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Ogle County Farm Bureau Building, 421 W Pines Rd., in Oregon. Both days must be attended to receive the certification. The registration fee of $10 covers course materials and lunch both days.

The course is open to people 55 and older who are auto policy holders. Those discount the course may be eligible for a on their auto insurance.

This program was developed by the National Safety Council and will be taught by Safety Specialist Doug Sommer of Pekin, Illinois. The course is very informative, entertaining and relevant to today’s driving environment and standards. An examination is not required to complete the course or receive certification.

Reservations are required and class size is limited. Call the Ogle County Farm Bureau at (815) 732-2231 to make your reservation or for more information.

This program is open only to farm bureau members and COUNTRY Financial insurances.

“I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.” -Rodney Dangerfield

Ron Kern is the manager of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.

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