By Madelin Shelton —

The U of L School of Nursing is partnering with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) to implement a $500,000 grant to address stress, mental health and suicide prevention among Kentucky farmers and farm families. The grant was given to the KDA by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The grant will help expand the efforts of Raising Hope – Supporting Healthy Lives on Kentucky Farms, a campaign within the KDA focused on improving both the mental and physical health of agricultural producers.

The grant will fund initiatives related to mental health resource awareness. “The KDA will partner with the University of Louisville’s School of Nursing to launch a marketing campaign to promote the mental health resources available to farmers and to educate the public about the stressors farmers encounter on the farm,” the KDA said in a press release. In addition, the grant will support youth outreach, farmer appreciation grants and a mobile web application.

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles spoke with The Louisville Cardinal about the importance of this grant and its role in improving the mental health of farmers and farm families across the Commonwealth.

“We’ve always known that mental health, just like with other industries, is an important issue among rural Kentucky, more specifically our farm families. However, there’s been a lack of information on the topic. In fact, one of the purposes of this grant is to help better understand the nature and scope of mental health needs across rural Kentucky,” he said.

“We’re hoping to change the narrative and help make the conversation about mental health one that’s easier to have and more routine across rural Kentucky.”

Quarles also touched on how the agriculture industry has so often focused on physical safety and how it was passed time to put the same energy into mental health awareness. “Farming is already a hazardous occupation. It’s one of the most deadly occupations in the United States, and we focus a lot on physical safety. Now it’s time for us to focus on mental health as well. We view it as just as important.”

In addition to the U of L School of Nursing, KDA will also partner with The Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture to implement the initiatives associated with the grant.

Photo Courtesy // Kentucky Department of Agriculture