Congress must promote mental health awareness in rural America and pass the "Seeding Rural Resilience Act," a bipartisan bill in the Senate recently introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to curb the rising rates of mental health issues and suicides in rural America.
Even in the best of times, rural Americans struggle with access to mental health services. But this year, extreme weather events, low commodity prices, and volatile export markets have made a bad situation worse.
The suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural America than in urban areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The worst farm economy in decades and stigmas against receiving mental healthcare is taking a toll on too many Americans living in small towns and rural communities.
Senator Jon Tester's bill aims to:
- Curb growing rates of suicide in rural America by implementing a voluntary stress management training program to Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and National Resources Conservation Service employees
- Provide the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture with $3 million to create a rural PSA campaign bringing awareness to the issue
- Direct the Secretary of Agriculture work with state and local stakeholders to create a mental health task force that will determine best practices to respond to farm and ranch mental stress