Program will connect farmers with mental health services

Courses are completed through video chat

WEST CENTRAL MICHIGAN — For farmers experiencing stress or mental health issues, the MSU Extension Farm Stress Program has started a pilot program to connect those needing mental health services with online counseling via teletherapy.

"Farming is a demanding and stressful occupation. There are characteristics and demands of the agricultural industry that are unique to farmers," MSU Extension stated in a news release. "Through this partnership, therapists will have a connection with the agricultural community and an understanding of farming practices and lifestyle."

Teletherapy differs from traditional counseling in that the sessions are completed online through video chat as opposed to face-to-face.

"This advanced approach provides flexibility for people to access behavioral health supports in the comfort of their own environment," the news release said. "Even with the current 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' executive order in Michigan, farmers can access behavioral health services."

Primary insurance plans with behavioral health coverage will be billed, however those without insurance may still qualify to participate.

Funding is limited and will be applied on a first come first served basis.

For more information or to access services, farmers may contact MSU Farm Stress Extension educator Eric Karbowski at 989-317-4079 or

Services also may be attained by calling 866-852-4001, however self-referrals must state “MSU Extension Teletherapy” to qualify for the pilot project.