Raising Hope for Farmer Health and Safety

Raising Hope for Farmer Health and Safety
Jul 03, 2024

Supporting Farmer Well-being Through Health and Safety Initiatives 

By Ryan Ridley

Cheryl Witt, serving as the Agricultural Nurse for Kentucky through the University of Kentucky Extension office, plays a crucial role in a coalition named Raising Hope.  

This initiative is dedicated to supporting the health and safety of farmers and their families across the state. 

Farms.com recently had the pleasure of connecting with Witt to discuss this coalition. 

Initially focused on combating high rates of suicide and depression among farmers, Raising Hope has expanded its scope to encompass overall physical and mental health. 

The program began by involving nursing students in providing health screenings at farm shows, which has significantly grown over time.  

Recognizing that preventing serious health issues like strokes or chronic diseases can keep farmers active in the fields longer, the coalition has tailored its services to meet the unique needs of the agricultural community.  

Farmers often define their health by their capacity to work, and maintaining this ability is a core goal of Raising Hope, says Witt. 

The traits that make farmers successful, such as independence and a strong work ethic, can sometimes make it difficult for them to seek help. To overcome this, Raising Hope focuses on outreach and education.  

They deliver preventative healthcare directly to farmers and facilitate small group discussions that encourage farmers to openly discuss their emotions and mental health challenges. 

Raising Hope also provides a robust online resource through its website, offering various aids and encouraging familiarity with local resources, especially crucial in rural areas where such resources are limited.

They stress the importance of community support, urging farmers to lean on each other and local figures like pastors for support in times of need. 

The coalition strongly advocates for using the 988 national hotline, ensuring that help is just a call or text away, even for those who are not in immediate crisis but need someone to talk to.  

The personal connection and support network Raising Hope fosters are vital, not just for individual farmers but for the broader health of rural communities across Kentucky. 

Watch the below video to learn more about Raising Hope.