WASHINGTON — In observance of Mental Health Month in May, American Farm Bureau Federation has increased its efforts to connect farmers and farming communities with crucial mental health resources.
AFBF has launched a comprehensive directory of mental health resources and support services available throughout the U.S., creating a central hub for rural Americans to access the information.
The index provides listings for behavioral health resources, counseling services, crisis hotlines and training courses available in each state, as well as those available nationwide. Articles, podcasts and videos related to mental health and farm stress also are compiled within the directory.
“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. “Our Farm State of Mind campaign is encouraging conversations about stress and mental health in farming and ranching communities. It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go it alone.”
A 2019 AFBF study found that financial issues, business problems and the fear of losing the farm negatively affected the mental health of most American farmers.
Those issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, precipitating the need to gather resources for farmers and other rural community members battling chronic stress and mental health struggles.
“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 areas that can help them manage farm stress and find help for mental health concerns,” Duvall added.
“Whether you’re looking for information about how to recognize and manage stress, trying to find counseling services in your area, or are in need of crisis support, you can find help here.”
Dana Fisher, chairman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Safety Advisory Committee, noted building awareness of these resources is a critical step in getting farmers to seek help.
“Just knowing that there’s assistance out there and that there are people to talk to is what’s helping farmers understand it’s OK to reach out,” Fisher said. “A lot of times it’s the stresses of agriculture that we need help with, whether it’s due to weather, markets, finances or family stress. And when you’re under that kind of pressure, it’s always good to talk it through with someone.”
–Virginia Farm Bureau