Rep. Brindisis visits CSG Hemp in the Southern Tier region of New York in May, 2019.
Rep. Brindisis visits CSG Hemp in the Southern Tier region of New York in May, 2019.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi wants to see increased access to mental health care for rural communities in the next coronavirus relief package. 

Brindisi is working with Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to get their bill to destigmatize and fund more mental healthcare in rural areas included in the next coronavirus aid package. Their legislation would require USDA to provide stress management training, and allocate $3 million to raising awareness around mental health in rural communities.

“After weeks speaking with our constituents who are living through this pandemic, we believe more needs to be done to support American agriculture and expand access to mental health care in rural communities,” Brindisi and Katko wrote in a letter to congressional leadership.

“One way we can help is by expanding access to critical mental health care for our nation’s farmers. That is why we ask that the next piece of legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic includes the text of the Seeding Rural Resilience Act.”

According to Brindisi’s office, between 1999 and 2016 the rate of suicide grew in nearly all 50 states. New York’s 22nd district, which Brindisi represents, saw an even higher suicide rate than the state average. And rural areas have a 45% higher suicide rate than urban areas, according to the CDC.

“This global crisis has been particularly challenging for American agriculture, which has faced the loss of restaurant and school markets, the widespread dumping of products, and labor disruptions. This widespread market chaos, outside of the farmer’s control, adds to the daily stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of farming life. There is no doubt that further action on the COVID-19 response needs to focus on the American farmer and rural communities,” they wrote