USDA Approves Half Million Dollar Grant to Support Rural Mental Health in Colorado

Broomfield, Colo. – The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is pleased to announce it has received $500,000 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to support the vitality and mental wellbeing of Colorado’s agricultural workers and producers through community-based efforts to manage the increasing stresses on our agricultural communities.

With numerous stressors on agriculture, from extreme weather conditions and growing effects of climate change to market uncertainty, Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and livestock producers are at increased risk of dealing with mental health challenges. However, many worry about the stigma of reaching out for support. Bringing mental health support to rural communities requires trust and relationships, and the NIFA grant will support efforts to increase culturally competent training for crisis responders and increase awareness and access to mental health care for farmers, ranchers, and ag workers.

“Drought can have a devastating effect on more than just crops; it can create stress and anguish for agricultural workers and producers,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “Rural communities face significant stigma with what can be described as a “suffer in silence” mentality. This grant will help us tackle stigma and deliver resources by bringing culturally competent training to crisis responders and increasing availability of support in rural communities.”

While suicide rates continue to rise across the state, rural Coloradans are at a higher risk of suicide, with 27.1 deaths per 100,000 in rural areas vs. 22.1 in non-rural areas of the state, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

“This project will build on the work already ongoing in rural communities to improve access and combat the stigma of mental health care. We will be working closely with our partners to promote wellbeing among ag community members,” said Dan Waldvogle, Director of External Affairs for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “The grant will fund the creation of trainings, access to technology, and other tools that increase statewide sharing of best practices among providers.”

This grant will be administered with help and support from rural and ag-focused organizations, including Southeast Health Group of Colorado, La Plata Family Centers Coalition, Colorado Farm Bureau, Rocky Mountain Farmers’ Union, and Colorado State University AgrAbility.

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