Farm State of Mind: AFBF provides rural mental health resources
“If your tractor needed maintenance, you would stop what you were doing and you’d get it working right before you try and go out in the field,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Director of Communications said. “You are the most important piece of equipment on your farm.”
According to AFBF, farmers and ranchers have struggled to access mental health services available for rural living. This lack of resources, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and alongside the stress of unpredictable weather and commodity prices, greatly impacts producers.
“In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, we have launched a comprehensive, easy-to-use online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges,” shared AFBF Managing Director of Member Engagement Jessica Cabrera.
The results of a national AFBF poll demonstrated the pandemic has had broad-ranging impacts on farmers and farm workers, including two in three farmers or farmworkers saying their mental health was impacted. These studies, conducted in 2019 and 2021, brought attention to the need for local resources to help agricultural producers deal with daily stresses as well as mental health concerns.
Survey results shows farmers and farm workers were 10 percent more likely than rural adults as a whole to experience feeling nervous, anxious or on-edge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the percentage of farmers and farm workers who say social isolation impacts farmers’ mental health increased by 22 percent since the April 2019 survey.
“For far too long, farmers and ranchers have been trying to cope with increasing levels of stress on their own,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
AFBF partnered with the University of Georgia School of Social Work to compile available resources to include in their mental health resource directory, the Farm State of Mind.
“Our Farm State of Mind campaign is encouraging conversations about stress and mental health in farming and ranching communities,” Duvall continued. “It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go through it alone.”
The Farm State of Mind directory includes listings for crisis hotlines and support lines, counseling services, training opportunities, podcasts, videos, published articles and many other resources available in each state and in Puerto Rico.
“This new online directory of stress and mental health resources in every state gives farmers, ranchers and rural communities a user-friendly, one-stop shop to find services in their area to help them manage farm stress and find help for mental health concerns,” noted Duvall. “Whether someone is looking for information about how to recognize and manage stress, trying to find counseling services in the area or are in need of crisis support, they can find help here.”
The resources within the Farm State of Mind directory are specifically geared toward farmers, ranchers and rural communities, says AFBF.
Farmers and ranchers are encouraged by AFBF to share the directory with their family, friends and community to spread awareness of the resource.
Cabrera said, “It’s wonderful to have great resources available to us, but if people do not know they are available then it’s really not going to make the impact. We would love for people to share this information so we can get the word out and those people who are in need can get the help they need.”
She continued, “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. We have a motto that we are stronger together, and we really do believe this is the case with addressing these very, ever-present needs in our communities right now.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.