SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A pilot program to help farmers deal with stress-related mental health issues is expanding statewide.

It is called the Farm Family Resource Initiative and aims to improve the mental and physical health of Illinois farm owners and their families.

Karen Stallmann, an agriculture resource specialist at Southern Illinois University, says farmers have many issues to deal with and the pandemic has made things even more challenging.

The program includes a telephone helpline, skill-building opportunities for coping strategies, and mental health first aid programs.

A $500-thousand dollar grant from the USDA was made available in response to a federal declaration of a public health emergency.