Joyce Fights to Improve Mental Health Care in Rural Communities

Feb 28, 2020
Health Care

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) announced he has cosponsored H.R. 4820, the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, a bill to improve mental healthcare in rural America and curb the suicide rate that is devastating Ohio’s agricultural communities. From 1999 to 2018, suicide rates grew in nearly all 50 states and, according to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate is 45% higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

“All Americans should have access to the mental health care they need, no matter where they live. However, over the past decade there has been a rapid increase of suicides in rural areas across the country,” said Dave. “By implementing suicide prevention training programs and promoting awareness of mental illness in rural areas, the Seeding Rural Resilience Act will help reverse this troubling trend. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this important, bipartisan legislation to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in our nation’s rural communities and ensure that farmers have better access to mental health care.”

“Issues surrounding mental health are complex and an unfortunate challenge for so many families across Ohio, particularly in rural areas. We applaud Congressman Joyce for his leadership to help raise awareness and for working to identify solutions,” said Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III.

In Ohio, suicide deaths increased 45% from 2007 to 2018. According to a report by the Ohio Department of Health, Ashtabula County had the third highest rate of suicide in the Buckeye State. Additionally, a recent poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation found that a strong majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues (91%), farm or business problems (88%) and fear of losing the farm (87%) negatively impact the mental health of farmers and ranchers.

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act would address these harrowing statistics by:

  • Providing USDA farmer-facing employees with voluntary training on stress detection and suicide prevention. This program will give employees who directly work with farmers the opportunity to develop skills that help them better support those struggling with mental health concerns.
  • Authorizing a $3 million public awareness campaign through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA to promote awareness of farm and ranch stress and destigmatize mental health care in rural communities.
  • Directing the Secretary to establish a task force of state, local, and federal agricultural and rural stakeholders to determine best practices to respond to farm and ranch mental stress.

Anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK, or 1-800-273-8255.


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