New Program Connects Farmers with Mental Health Services

A new program by MSU Extension is helping farmers experiencing stress and mental health issues with online counseling.

The pilot project connects farmers with a licensed mental health therapist through teletherapy.

MSU extension says there are characteristics and demands of the agricultural industry that are unique to farmers.

Through this partnership, therapists will have a connection with the agricultural community and an understanding of farming practices and lifestyle.

Eric Karbowski, a behavioral health educator at MSU Extension, says, “I think the agricultural industry has been hit pretty hard. There’s a lot of uncontrollable risk factors that are involved in farming like, commodity price, government regulations, weather has been an extreme concern lately and so this was a good opportunity for us to provide an intervention to the farmers for any time they are in need.”

Paul Gross, field crops educator at MSU Extension, says, “I think it’s a real opportunity for us to provide a service to farmers that I think is often been overlooked, just by nature of how farming is and the independent spirit farmers have. It’s very difficult for them to talk about the stresses that they may have, just like anybody else, and it impacts their work, their relationships with family, friends.”

The pilot project does have funding limitations. Primary insurance plans with behavioral health coverage will be billed to offset costs. However, those without insurance or without behavioral health coverage still qualify for participation.

There are two ways farmers can access services with the pilot project. You can reach out to Karbowski at 989-317-4079 or karbows8@msu.edu, or self-refer for services by calling 866-852-4001. Please note that self-referrals must state “MSU Extension Teletherapy” to qualify for the pilot project.

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