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J Agromedicine. 2011 Apr;16(2):87-98. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2011.554766.

AgrAbility mental/behavioral health for farm/ranch families with disabilities.

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School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.


Farmers and their families are at high risk for work-related stressors and incidents that may result in physically disabling conditions. Coping with the acute and chronic results of disability has been documented to contribute to mental and behavioral health issues. Improvements in the ability to cope with the impact of stressors and adjustment to living with a severe disability can enhance quality of life and well-being and decrease long-term emotional complications. Due to the unique characteristics of many rural or agricultural communities (including isolation, low population density, and lack of transportation services), residents with disabilities are at significant risk for mental/behavioral health issues complicated by the lack of mental/behavioral health services and resources. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) AgrAbility Program was authorized by Congress as part of the 1990 Farm Bill to assist farmers, ranchers, their workers, and families who are impacted by disability. Initially AgrAbility services targeted physical disabilities; but as the need has become more apparent, efforts are being made to expand mental/behavioral health-related services, including referrals to appropriate sources of treatment. A survey was conducted in 2009 by the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) to identify the types of mental/behavioral health services and resources that the 21 USDA-funded State and Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAPs) provide for their clients. Resources were also identified from three other experts in the rural mental/behavioral health field who are associated with the AgrAbility Program. The purpose of this article is to report a summary of those services and resources that are currently available through the AgrAbility network. Recommendations for the NAP concerning mental/behavioral health initiatives and implementation strategies for the SRAPs are also presented.

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