In recent years, factors such as climate change, natural disasters, the economy and COVID-19 have taken a negative toll on overall mental health. While the acknowledgment of mental health in agriculture has increased, now more than ever, farmers, salespeople, lab technicians and all involved in growing food and fiber need support.
Unstable production conditions, shifting market prices and uncertainty in relation to trade and tariff policies create a life of instability for farmers. May, Mental Health Awareness Month, is the perfect time to recognize the daily struggles of agriculturists and offer support and resources for that community.
Reducing stigmas starts with information and education. Here are five resources to better understand mental health and offer access to resources for those who suffer from mental health conditions.
Mental Health Resources
- Do More Agriculture Foundation — Do More Agriculture Foundation (Do More Ag) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that provides resources and workshops to allow producers to take care of their mental wellbeing. The foundation also educates professionals outside of the agriculture community to spread awareness
- “Agriculture is an industry steeped in hard work and resilience; these traits can make it hard for producers to talk about mental health. We want to help break down the barriers surrounding talking about mental health and work together to end the stigma that keeps people from reaching out when they need support and/or starting a conversation with someone they think is struggling,” shared Megz Reynolds, executive director of Do More Ag.
- Workshops available from the organization include the ‘Talk, Ask Listen Workshop,’ Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and ‘AgCulture.
- Farmer Resource Network — Farmer Resource Network is Farm Aid’s, a nonprofit organization, online directory that contains more than 750 organizations that work closely with farmers nationwide on a multitude of issues. The free search tool caters towards farmers, farm communities and farming families in the United States.
- Farm Aid Hotline 1-800-FARM-AID — The Farm Aid Hotline offers mental health aid Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, for United States residents. Help is also available through the Farmer Services team email service. Advocates refer farmers to a network of support organizations across the country.
- “Whether you have been farming for a few years or decades we welcome your call, our team will listen and point you in the right direction,” stated the Farm Aid website.
- Farm and Rural Stress Hotline — Avera Health System, based in South Dakota, created the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline to offer a helping hand to farmers dealing with mental health issues. The line connects growers with Avera’s mental health professionals to determine the best course of action and which steps to take. The hotline is free and confidential.
- Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline: 1-800-691-4336
- Farm Crisis Center — The National Farmers Union created the Farm Crisis Center to provide a directory of national and local resources for struggling farmers. The directory includes national disaster resources, pandemic resources and more.
- “Even in the best of times, farming can be an incredibly high-stress occupation. Unpredictable weather, crop disease, volatile markets, heavy workloads, and social isolation are just a handful of the challenges that farmers may face,” shared the Farm Crisis Center. “National Farmers Union compiled the following resources to help farmers through stressful times.”