MSU Extension Farm Stress Program partners to connect farmers with mental health services

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Farmers can now access counseling with licensed therapists via teletherapy.

Michigan State University Extension’s Farm Stress Program is now equipped to connect farmers experiencing stress and mental health issues with online counseling. Through this pilot project, MSU Extension can link farmers with a licensed mental health therapist via teletherapy. What is online counseling? Online counseling or teletherapy provides mental health and counseling services through the internet rather than in-person. Traditional therapy is typically conducted during face-to-face meetings in an office. Teletherapy is a counseling session that is completed through video chat between mental health care providers and clients. This advanced approach provides flexibility for people to access behavioral health supports in the comfort of their own environment. Even with the current “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order in Michigan, farmers can access behavioral health services.

The pilot project does have funding limitations. Primary insurance plans with behavioral health coverage will be billed to offset costs. Those without insurance or without behavioral health coverage still qualify for participation. Farmers will be supported on a first come first serve basis while funding is available. Farming is a demanding and stressful occupation. 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.

There are two ways farmers can access services with the pilot project. You can reach out to Eric Karbowski, MSU Extension farm stress educator, 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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