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New mental health assistance program aims to curb suicides in ag communities

A smiling farmer.
Jake Heinemann
A smiling farmer.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is partnering with the Utah State University Extension Ag Wellness to create a program they call the Ag Stress Assistant Program (ASAP).

The new program received over $500,000 in donations from the USDA and is trying to get the word out about its launch. This program allows up to $2,000 to anyone in the agricultural community who need therapeutic help. All they have to do is fill out the voucher found on the Ag Wellness website.

“We are trying to attack this from multiple angles and hoping that we can make the biggest impact that we possibly can with the grant funding dollars that we received," said Bailee Woolstenhulme, public information officer for the UDAF.

Woolstenhulme said those in agricultural communities are twice as likely to die by suicide when compared with the general population. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Utah, and according to a March UDAF release, rural areas have higher rates and less access to care.

These statistics are the reason the UDAF and Ag Wellness program are trying to break the stigma around mental health. Josh Dallin, USU Bastian agricultural center director, said that agricultural people care more about their work and their families than they do themselves, and because of that, if they don’t get the help they need, everything they help produce will stop.

“I would dare say that our agricultural people are the most selfless in the world," Dallin said.

Dallin has been a part of many USU Ag Wellness trainings in an attempt to educate others on how to help those who are struggling,

“We're trying to just make it almost a saturated thing to where you’ve got almost be hiding under a rock to not know about what's happening with this mental health movement," Dallin said.

Dallin hopes those that hear about this program will act now and take advantage of it.

“I want that money to go, I want it to dry up. I want people to use this so much that it dries up," Dallin said.

For Resources go to
Ag Wellness | USU