According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), farming is one of the top ten most stressful occupations. This stress can be significantly increased as a result of the depressed economy, decreased farm milk price, lack of health care coverage, aging farm population and farming with a disability. It can be difficult knowing where to turn for assistance and what services are available.
The NYCAMH Farm Partners Program was established in 1992 to address the problems associated with work-related stress in farming. Farm Partners provides free and confidential on-farm counseling and case management assistance to farmers and their families. The Farm Partners Program utilizes the "team approach" and works in conjunction with other farm human service agencies to assist the farmer with problem solving. The most common issues for which farmers sought help were: a lack of medical insurance (27%); physical disability (27%); and mental health concerns (15%).
A licensed social worker goes to the farm and assists the farmer with the completion of all required paperwork, enabling them to apply for Medicaid, Family Health Plus, hospital financial assistance or Social Security Disability. The social worker then applies for services, as a representative of the farmer, allowing the farmer to remain on the farm. The social worker assists disabled farmers in securing the services they need to remain farming. If the farmer is unable to continue farming due to disability, the social worker assists the farmer in applying for Social Security Disability.