According to an American Farm Bureau Federation Survey, many farmers and farm workers think financial issues, fear of losing the farm and farming or business problems impact the mental health of farmers.

Spring planting season is here for Midwestern farmers. That’s often the most stressful time of their year. With this year’s late start to spring, many Illinois farmers face concerns about getting their crops in the ground.

Liz Hulsizer is a fifth-generation farmer in Knox/Warren County. She says while she and her family love what they do, the pressure to produce is definitely on.

“When you get to this fifth generation, there’s much more pressure to do things right and to continue on. When fertilizer prices are skyrocketing and diesel prices are skyrocketing and our cost of production is going up while the grain markets are going up as well, our actual net income is getting tighter and tighter,” said Hulsizer.

Through the Farm Family Resource Initiative (FFRI) farmers in all Illinois counties can access mental health help through many avenues. The FFRI offers a 24/7 mental health hotline, email, and text option, all of which can be anonymous.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II says by providing an anonymous outlet, farmers hopefully can avoid the many stigmas associated with asking for help.

“We are a proud group of people and we are a strong resilient people. And I think people associate talking about mental health as a weakness, when actually it’s the opposite,” said Hulsizer.

Hulsizer says that her family has used the services offered by the FFRI and have been pleased.

“To have this barrier taken away to where we can have instant access has been great. Rather it is in the tractor planting … in the sprayer spraying or planting … it’s just a blessing in the area and we’re beyond grateful for it.”

Tele-health counseling sessions are also available for those in need of additional support. Up to six sessions are available at no cost for the farmer or farm family.