Mental Health Bill for Farmers Introduced in Senate

A bill introduced by Senator John Tester seeks to bring mental health resources and awareness to rural communities. The Montana Democrat this week introduced the Seeding Rural Resilience Act to help reduce stress and suicides in rural America. While Tester said, “There is no silver bullet…” (but the bill)  “provides better tools and resources for folks in rural communities to manage and reduce stress.”

Data from the Center for Disease Control shows the suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural America than in urban areas. Tester says Americans in rural communities deal with substantial isolation, significant travel times for basic health services, lack of broadband access that would enable tele-health services, and stigmas against receiving counseling.

The bill would provide Department of Agriculture employees voluntary stress management training, and for a partnership with Department of Health to create a $3 million public awareness campaign, and direct the Agriculture Secretary to work with stakeholders to identify the best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.