BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — “If corn prices double … if beef prices went way up, if milk prices went way up, would depression and its problems still be around?” asked Paul Pedersen, M.D., OSF St. Joseph Medical Center vice president and chief medical officer. “The answer is yes. So, it’s not just about the stressors that are there in our lives. A stress-free life doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be depressed.”
But what is the difference between mental health and mental illness? “We can think about every single one of us having mental health,” explained Courtney Cuthbertson, University of Illinois assistant professor and Extension specialist. “And seeing it exist on a spectrum and people needing different support depending on where they are.”
Cuthbertson went on to depict a metaphor between sports and mental health. “Until I actually try to throw a football, I won’t be able to do it,” Cuthbertson said. “When we think about that in the context of mental health, we can read as much as we want, and we can learn as much as we want. But until we actually try to use the skills and are able to interact with folks that are struggling, it might feel a little uncomfortable. So, we have to practice in order to improve those skills and be able to provide help.”
But individuals may struggle to access mental health resources or training opportunities due to the costs, lack of broadband or the stigma, noted Amy Rademaker, Carle Foundation Hospital farm safety specialist. While challenges exist, a range of efforts are being implemented by organizations across Illinois.
Cuthbertson shared resources that she has developed for Extension usage. Other shared resources included Warm Line, a free and confidential mental health support phoneline for anyone in Illinois, and the Mental Health First Aid training course.
From a local perspective, Cross Over Ministries is a faith-centered community promoting individual recovery and wellness based in Hillsboro.
From a medical perspective, Pedersen noted that the likelihood of increasing psychiatrists is low. “We’re not going to get psychiatrists in rural Illinois,” said Pedersen. “Don’t plan on it. Don’t think that’s a solution. But, for most of the disease processes that we’re going to be treating, primary care physicians are well-trained to do that.”
And the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program has been successful in increasing the number of primary care physicians in rural Illinois since 1948.
Pedersen also shared information about resources including an app developed by OSF, Silver Cloud, as well as telepsych and telehealth services.
With so many uncontrollable factors in farming on top of family dynamics, it can be easy for an individual to feel overwhelmed. “We are not isolated in these struggles,” noted Adrienne DeSutter, ag wellness advocate. Overall, the group agreed that collaboration, starting at the local community level, is necessary to build a base of education, support and resources.
— Ashley Rice, FarmWeekNow.com
Illinois Farm Bureau
For more articles out of Illinois, click here.