The Colorado Agricultural Commission has approved funding for four projects through the new Rural Mental Health Grant Program. The Colorado Department of Agriculture will distribute nearly $200,000 in funding to improve how mental and behavioral health services are delivered across Colorado’s rural communities.
“Farm and agricultural stress comes from so many different sources, yet there is a stigma around accessing services. Whether you’re dealing with the effects of climate change, anxiety and depression, struggling after deployment, or wrestling with other symptoms, rural communities have unique needs and need more opportunity to access services that can help,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “The number of applications the program received shows there is an extreme need across Colorado to support mental and behavioral health services in our rural communities.”
The Colorado Department of Agriculture received 55 applications from organizations serving 63 of Colorado’s 64 counties, requesting more than $3.3 million in funding, with the average request of approximately $65,000. A one-time appropriation funded the Rural Mental Health Grant Program from the Colorado General Assembly during the 2022 legislative session.
The grants were considered by a review panel, including a member of the Agricultural Commission and mental and behavioral health services experts. Review criteria included evidence of funding impact and demonstrated need of target populations. The review panel issued recommendations for funding, which the Colorado Agricultural Commission approved.
The four awarded applicants are:
Community Health Initiatives will provide resilience and skills training to at-risk communities in Western Colorado, serving the military, first responders, cancer patients, and aging adults and their families. The training teaches families practical skills to help them meet the challenges of military life, such as deployments, stress, injury, and other transitions. Total grant amount: $61,000
Loving Beyond Understanding, Inc. will increase the availability and quality of care and services for the LGBTQ+ community, including trans and nonbinary people, by providing counseling sessions to youth and parents. The project also funds cultural competency training for existing medical professionals and other service providers who interact with LGBTQ+ people in rural communities in Western Colorado. Total grant amount: $61,000
Northwest Colorado Health will increase access to direct and indirect behavioral health services during primary and dental visits while assuring providers maximize clinic time. Serving Routt and Moffat counties, this funding will allow NCH to increase patient care and outreach to rural and agricultural communities. Targeted plans will be developed in collaboration with community partners such as the CSU Extension Office, the Community Agriculture Alliance, and local 4-H Clubs. Total grant amount: $27,500
Project Protect Food Systems Workers will distribute care kits and perform mental and behavioral health outreach to agricultural workers across the state. The project aims to increase awareness of services and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental and behavioral health services among their target demographic, which includes low-income Spanish-speakers. Total grant amount: $50,000
The four projects will touch 34 rural Colorado counties and provide services to at-risk and underserved populations, including agricultural workers, LGBTQIA+ youth and families, veterans and emergency responders, and cancer patients and their families.