Utah offering vouchers to farmers with mental health struggles

Jun 15, 2023, 10:58 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2023, 7:02 am

For as much as he loves farming, T.J. Rhodes knew something didn’t feel right.

“I love the lifestyle. I really do,” he said. “But there have been times where I just wanted to sell it all and quit.”

Any farmer will tell you the stress of the job can be overwhelming.

“Of all the careers out there, you’d be hard-pressed to find another career where you are so susceptible to outside influences,” Rhodes said. “You know, increasing inputs and decreasing markets and variable weather and all the pressures of pests and weeds and all those kinds of things.”

It got to a point where Rhodes spoke with a therapist, something many farmers just don’t do.

“I remember grandpa and dad, nobody ever really asked for help,” he said. “They probably had the same struggles, the same stresses, but they just kept it all inside. I think it was hard on them, but I don’t see we need to do that anymore.”

The trick, though, is getting farmers who have that independent rugged image to talk to someone.

“We don’t talk about feelings with our wives half the time, you know?” Chris Chambers said with a laugh.

Chambers, who runs a dairy farm in Cache County, was in a dark place when one of his farming friends died by suicide.

“I had several people tell me you need to go talk to somebody, you need to go talk to somebody. I said no, I will figure it out on my own, I will figure it out on my own,” Chambers said. “Finally, I realized that I couldn’t and it’s hard.”

That’s why the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food started the Ag Stress Assistance Program. It’s designed to offer $2,000 vouchers to those in the farming and ranching industry to talk to a mental health professional, even if they don’t think they need to.

(Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV) (Jack Grimm/ KSL TV)

“It helped me move on,” Chambers said. “It helped me to know that I am not abnormal, and I am not different.”

The same thing for Rhodes.

His daughter wrote a research paper at Utah State University about mental health for farmers.

“It’s something that I have seen be dealt with my whole life and I know it is a huge problem in the ag industry,” Brinley Rhodes said. “I am proud of my dad for getting help.”

It’s that younger generation letting older generations know it’s OK.

“If they’re struggling, reach out and get help. If they’re struggling, tell somebody,” T.J. Rhodes said.

It’s an issue the Utah Farm Bureau is also looking at, offering tips and assistance for farmers and ranchers who are feeling the stress of the job.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Carfax found that roughly 2.1 million vehicles in Utah have rolled back odometers. (KSL TV)...

Matt Gephardt

Odometer fraud is making a comeback and could cost car buyers thousands of dollars

Con artists selling used cars have a new way of rolling back an odometer, making it significantly cheaper and quicker for them to achieve. On average, someone who buys a car with a rolled back odometer loses about $4,000.

8 hours ago

WII veteran Ed Carroll at Pearl Harbor. (Courtesy: Ed Carroll)...

Erin Cox and Michael Houck, KSL TV

Utah veteran honored for service at pearl harbor 82 years ago

A Utah WII veteran shares his experience of Pearl Harbor as he returned to the island to be honored for his duty to his country.

9 hours ago

(FILE) - Cars on a snowy road in a canyon. (KSL TV)...

Katija Stjepovic and Michael Houck, KSL TV

UHP, UDOT warns drivers to be prepared before driving on snowy roads

As the snowy weather hits Utah's valleys, UHP and UDOT wants every driver to be prepared for the upcoming snowy weather.

10 hours ago

Santa delivering gifts to the kids....

Mike Anderson and Michael Houck, KSL TV

Angel Flight pilots bring gifts, donations to Title 1 schools

A Title 1 school in St George is now heading into Christmas with a bunch of new school supplies, - toys for kids in need, and cash donations.

11 hours ago

File photo...

Michael Houck

8-year-old flown to hospital after falling from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

An 8-year-old girl is hospitalized after falling from a second-story window in Eagle Mountain Thursday evening.

11 hours ago

Davis (right) with her child visiting her doctor. (KSL TV's Emma Benson)...

Emma Benson

What you need to know about getting vaccinated while pregnant

It's cold and flu season, and pregnant mothers and newborns are among those most vulnerable to illnesses, but expectant moms can protect themselves -- and their babies -- through vaccination.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah offering vouchers to farmers with mental health struggles