Free telehealth counseling available.


Breaking down barriers to mental health services for Missouri farmers and their families is a goal of University of Missouri Extension through the newly revised Show-Me Strong Farm Families website at

During May, Mental Health Awareness Month, the people behind the website want farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and their families to know that free telehealth counseling by trusted professionals who understand agriculture is available to them, said Karen Funkenbusch, MU Extension instructor and program director for Missouri’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Program.

To request free, confidential telehealth counseling, visit, email or call 573-882-4677.

Telehealth counseling a convenient, confidential option

Funkenbusch says telehealth counseling, which is available by phone or online, is easy, safe and secure (100% confidential). Telehealth gives rural residents more choices in health care providers and can cut down on the need to take off from work or obtain child care, saving patients money and time.

Telehealth is not, however, for mental health emergencies. Call or text 988, the 24-hour National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, to connect with emergency mental health services.

Farm stress can contribute to mental health struggles

“Farm stress is real,” Funkenbusch said. She shares how to recognize the signs of stress that can lead to mental health challenges, such as weight loss or gain, changes in appetite, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, poor concentration, confusion, relationship problems, feeling anxious or irritable, and negative thinking. Physical signs, which can be more obvious but take time to develop, include body aches, fatigue and rising blood pressure.

“People can build coping skills with confidential telehealth counseling from a trusted source,” Funkenbusch said.

A 2020 report, Growing Stress on the Farm, showed Missouri had the largest shortage of health care and mental health providers in the U.S. Free counseling through Show-Me Strong Farm Families is a way to bridge that gap, she said. The report was compiled by the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Hospital Association and MU Extension.

“Check out the Resources section of the Show-Me Strong Farm Families website, which includes helpful materials, including videos, developed by MU Extension and its Missouri partners,” said Funkenbusch.

Mental Health Awareness Toolkit

“To build a sustainable future in agriculture, we need to promote the mental health, safety and well-being of Missouri’s farmers and ranchers,” said Funkenbusch. “You can use the Mental Health Awareness Toolkit (available as a PDF at to start the conversation, help raise awareness about mental health, fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, make referrals and advocate for polices that support individuals and families in our agricultural communities.”

The toolkit is also available as a digital flipbook at

Show-Me Strong Farm Families is supported by funds from the North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Alliance Center (NCFRSAC), USDA NIFA grant number 2020-70028-32728.