Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services receives 2021 MSU Extension Key Partner Award

MSU Extension honored the Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services for their partnership and support of the mental health during a pandemic during the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 28.

Michigan State University Extension awarded Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services with a 2021 Key Partner Award on Sept. 28. The Key Partner Award recognizes those that have made significant contributions to support and promote MSU Extension programs.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, a nonprofit organization, offers a full continuum of mental health services. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Michigan State University Extension leadership coordinated a meeting with Pine Rest to explore the possibility of partnering. The results of this meeting have been exemplary. The partnership resulted in developing a referral process, identifying licensed therapists having a connection to agriculture, and implementing the process for expedited access to comprehensive mental health services. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development awarded grant-funded support to offset associated costs of the services for farmers.

The work Pine Rest provides has been a welcomed service to farmers and farm families in need. This partnership has removed barriers for farmers seeking mental health services in Michigan. Farmers from across Michigan have taken advantage of the opportunity to access life-improving and lifesaving therapeutic intervention through the teletherapy pilot project. Although it started before the pandemic, the teletherapy program became increasingly more useful throughout the pandemic as a strategy to reach farmers at a distance and meet them in their spaces of comfort and familiarity. Pine Rest has taken the additional step of ensuring that professionals connected to farmers have a background and understanding of the unique stressors in farming.

To further support the collective efforts, Pine Rest has participated in co-authoring an article for the MSU Extension farm stress website related to behavioral health and farm stress as well as offering impactful quotes from the providing clinicians. All of which MSU Extension has been authorized to use for the promotion of the program, expanded efforts, reduction of stigma, and the continued outreach to farmers in distress.

This partnership continues to gain traction as more farmers and farm families are accessing the needed support. In 2020, the teletherapy program was expanded to help Michigan’s aquaculture and commercial fishers. Pine Rest is and will be a Key Partner for MSU Extension now and for many years to come.

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