DECATUR, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker has signed off on a new state program intended to offer mental health services to farmers in Illinois’ rural communities.

“As Governor, as a father, and as someone who has personally witnessed the mental health epidemic among family and friends, there is nothing more important than making sure every Illinoisan has access to the mental health services they need to lead happier and healthier lives,” said Pritzker, while attending the 2023 Farm Progress Show.

The program is an expansion of the “Farm Family Resource Initiative,” which provided a hotline and mental health services through telehealth appointments to six Illinois counties. It now covers all 102 counties.

The new funding will allow for $20,000 in grants for Future Farmers of America chapters in the state.

Those funds can be used to increase awareness of mental health and wellness in farming communities.

“If you’re struggling with your mental health it can often feel like you’re alone and have nowhere to turn. And it’s particularly isolating to carry the stigma and shame that prevents many in our rural communities from seeking help. Well, we’re here today to make it clear that it’s okay to not be okay,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

The Farmer Assistance Helpline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 1-833-FARM-SOS.