NMDA receives grant to bolster mental health resources

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture received a grant for the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network program in an effort to enhance a network that connects individuals who are engaged in farming, ranching and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grant to NMDA. Projects funded through the program must initiate, expand or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance as necessary through farm telephone helplines and websites; training programs and workshops; support groups; and outreach services and activities. A total of $500,000 was awarded, and it must be used by Aug. 31. NMDA has partnered with the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service to allocate these funds across multiple platforms.

NMDA plans to leverage NMSU’s Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center, which is a collaborative effort between NMDA and Cooperative Extension Service, to enhance existing efforts aligned with achieving the goals of the stress assistance network.

In collaboration with the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, the Center will use a blended approach to accomplish four specific objectives sculptured around improving behavioral health, reducing and mitigating stress, and providing positive outcomes for New Mexico’s agricultural communities. Objectives include:

1. Leverage existing network resources such as the Stronger Together campaign by the American Farm Bureau Federation through a grass roots campaign to increase local awareness and education;

2. Enhance professional development opportunities by offering trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid or similar courses to increase skills-based capacity to recognize and respond to stress in local communities;

3. Adapt and create evidence-based stress prevention, wellness and health resources to recognize the unique cultural and traditional ways of life in New Mexico and how they are affected by stress; and

4. Host multiple workshops both in person and virtually to provide outreach and education regarding stress relief and wellness within different regions of the state.

The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network website, www.heretohelpnm.com, provides information about stress prevention, wellness and health resources, or you may contact Marshal Wilson at 575-646-7243 or [email protected].