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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Sowing the Seeds of Hope (SSoH)
Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Start Date

Brief Description
Sowing the Seeds of Hope (SSoH) was designed and initiated in 1999 by the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health and the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. Today, it is a collaborative effort of project leaders in seven predominantly rural States: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The federally funded campaign is administered by AgriWellness, Inc. and coordinated through a different group in each State (e.g., mental health coalition, religious organization).

Negative stigma about mental health services, geographic barriers, and a perception that providers do not understand the agricultural issues of rural residents often deter rural families from seeking necessary assistance. In addition, some residents do not have health insurance or adequate behavioral health coverage.

Each State that is part of SSoH chooses a project leader, who then determines how to use the funds most effectively within his or her State. The States collaborate to share best practices, which include the following:

  • Social marketing through publications, including annual reports, articles in local and national publications and professional journals, press releases, and other media activities such as radio and television appearances and presentations at conferences and meetings.
  • Outreach to identify persons in need of services.
  • Training and educating behavioral health care providers, community health workers, natural helpers, the faith community, and others who serve the agricultural population.
  • Educating community citizens about agricultural behavioral health issues.
  • Information clearinghouses.
  • Crisis hotlines for the agricultural population.
  • Direct services through vouchers, contracts with approved providers, and other means to ensure that everyone in the agricultural population has access to necessary services.
  • Prevention of more serious emotional and mental difficulties through early intervention.
  • Coalition building with organizations, agencies, and communities.
  • Advocacy for behavioral health care of the underserved agricultural population.
  • Retreats and support group activities for farm couples and families.

SSoH programs have reached more than 30,000 farm residents in more than 600 outreach events. More than 750 providers have received specialized training in agricultural behavioral health. More than 7,600 farm residents have received stress education assistance, and crisis telephone hotlines in 7 States have responded to over 36,000 calls from farm and ranch residents. More than 7,000 farm families have received specialized counseling services and 700 persons have participated in farm couple retreats and ongoing support groups. Despite drought, floods, and continuing economic challenges to family-sized farming operations, suicide rates have not increased in States with SSoH services. SSoHs work has been featured on ABC, CNN, National Geographic Television, NPR, and the Farm Bureau Radio Network. The SSoH program has been selected as a best practice model, which is included in Rural Healthy People 2010: A Companion Document to Healthy People 2010.

For further information about SSoH, contact Michael R. Rosmann, Ph.D., AgriWellness, Inc., 1210 7th Street, Suite C, Harlan, IA 51537; phone: 712-235-6100; e-mail:; Internet:


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.