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USDA approves half million dollar grant to support rural mental health in Colorado

This grant supports efforts to increase awareness and access to mental health care for farmers,...
This grant supports efforts to increase awareness and access to mental health care for farmers, ranchers, and ag workers.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 7:48 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -The Colorado Department of Agriculture received $500,000 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture 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 Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and livestock producers are at increased risk of dealing with mental health challenges. This grant supports efforts to increase culturally competent training for crisis responders and increase awareness and access to mental health care for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural 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.”

According to the Colorado Health Institute, 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.

“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.”

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, are helping to administer this grant.

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