The American Farm Bureau and other organizations have published directories farmers can access
By Diego Flammini
With May recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, U.S. ag industry groups are providing access to directories and resources members of rural America can access if they are facing mental health struggles.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, for example, has compiled state and national resources onto its Farm State of Mind page.
The directory includes links and phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention lifeline and other nationwide resources. It also has a search directory for anyone looking for resources closer to home.
The Farm Bureau created the directory after results from surveys in 2019 and 2021 showed a need for mental health support in the ag sector.
Among the results from the 2021 survey, released in January, showed farmers and farmworkers were 10 percent more likely than rural adults as a whole to have experienced feeling nervous or anxious during the pandemic.
Members of the Farm Bureau are hopeful farmers will use the available resources to start having conversations about their mental health.
“We want to encourage conversations about stress and mental health in farming and ranching communities and raise awareness that those who are struggling do not need to suffer alone,” said Jessica Cabrera, managing director of member engagement with the Farm Bureau. “We have a motto that we are stronger together, and we really do believe that’s the case with addressing these very, ever-present needs that are in our communities right now.”
Farmers can also use the hashtag #FarmStateOfMind on social media to show support.
A university has paired up with a farm safety organization to spread mental health resource awareness.
The University of Missouri Extension and Show-Me Farm Safety have teamed up to release the Together We Can toolkit to help rural Missourians access mental health supports.
The toolkit includes printable pamphlets that can be distributed in communities, tips on how to recognize the signs of a mental health issue, links to mental health support pages and hashtags to use on social media.
“Farmers and ranchers face new and unique challenges on a daily basis and managing the stress that comes with these challenges can be demanding,” Chris Chinn, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, said in a statement. “The resources made available through the Together We Can toolkit will help the agriculture community start the conversation about managing stress. Having these tools available to our rural communities will help build a stronger community and raise awareness about an important topic that impacts the backbone of our country.”
And even prior to Mental Health Awareness Month, members of the ag community were spreading mental health awareness messages.
Earlier in the year, DEKALB Asgrow released a video titled “No One Farms Alone.”
In the video, Dubois, Ind., farmer Kevin Kalb talks about losing close friend Blake Kalb by suicide in 2020 and how the loss has changed his outlook on his own life.
“Since (Blake’s death) happened, the farm used to be number one to me,” he said in the video. “Now it’s kids, my wife and my family. The farm ain’t going to miss me when I’m gone. But the kids will and my wife will.”
Farms.com has also compiled lists of national and state mental health and suicide prevention resources, which can be found here.