OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Farmers, ranchers, and those living in rural Utah will have more opportunities to access mental health resources thanks to the Utah State University Extension.

The USU Extension received $200,000 to invest in pilot programs after partnering with 13 states and four territories for a new grant.

Ron Gibson is a 6th generation dairy farmer in Weber County. He says the industry comes with constant challenges.

“When we admit that we’re struggling it means that we’re weak, in reality, what it is, when we admit that we’re struggling, it means that we’re normal,” said Gibson.

Gibson says it’s important to have conversations about mental health, even if it’s uncomfortable.

“We just need to teach each other that you are worth something,” he added.

The Western Regional Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Grant will work with three USU Extension departments to create course content specifically for farmers, ranchers, and rural Utahns.

“You hear a lot more about mental health in urban counties than you do in rural counties, these farmers and ranchers don’t just open up and talk about their feelings,” said Tasha Killian, a USU Extension Assistant Professor.

USU Extension leaders say the goal is to create a network of people in the industry that can help one another.

“We’re saying, ‘hey do you know somebody who may be struggling? Take these classes, learn this information so that you can then help them when that comes up in a conversation’,” said Killian.

Gibson says he wants to remind farmers, ranchers and rural Utanhs, they will get through any challenge and it’s okay to ask for help.

Killian says within the next year, courses will be available online, but if anyone needs assistance now, to contact them.

Utah will pilot this program and it will be taken to the Western Region of the United States. USU Extension leaders say hopefully, it will eventually be available throughout the nation.

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