Sauk County Farm Bureau members Brenda Statz and Randy Roecker talked with NBC Nightly News about the importance of addressing farmer mental health and seeking help when needed.
About Rural Resilience:
American Farm Bureau sponsored a research poll in May 2019 to learn more about mental health in rural America, specifically with farmers and farmworkers. The results showed that mental health is something that many farmers, farmworkers and rural adults struggle with, but the stigma and cost associated with treatment are hindering them from seeking necessary treatment.
Farmers and farmworkers who were surveyed said financial issues (91%), farm or business problems (88%) and fear of losing the farm (87%) impact farmers’ mental health. Other factors included stress, weather, the economy, isolation and social stigma.
A strong majority of rural adults (91%) said mental health is important to them and/or their family, while 82% of farmers/farm workers said the same. Polling found that a majority of rural adults have either personally sought care (31%) or have a family member (24%) who has sought care for a mental health condition.
Three in four rural adults (75%) said it’s important to reduce stigma about mental health in the agriculture community, while two in three farmers/farm workers (66%) said the same.
To learn more about this research, how to spot the warning signs of stress or how to help someone who is having thoughts of suicide, visit American Farm Bureau’s Rural Resilience resources page.
Stress and Mental Health Resources:
About the Farm Neighbors Care Campaign:
Due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, farm neighbors are encouraged to utilize alternative means to check in on those around them. It is now more important than ever to make sure friends, family members and neighbors are ok and that they have someone to check-in, but we must also protect those who are vulnerable to illness.
Farm Neighbors Care is a social media campaign to support our farmers who are facing stress due to low market prices, poor weather and crop conditions, etc. Farming can be an isolating career, especially if other family members work off the farm. It is important to check in on your friends, neighbors and family members to gauge how they are doing and offer support and a listening ear.
The campaign asks rural residents to have face-to-face conversations with farmers and agri-business owners. For some, this conversation and check-in may be the dose of positivity needed to make it through a tough day.
Farm Neighbors Care is a collaborative effort between many agricultural organizations in the state. Partnering groups include: AgrAbility of Wisconsin, Dairy Business Association, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Farmer Angel Network, Insight FS, National Farm Medicine Center, Professional Dairy Producers, Rural Mutual Insurance Company, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Farm Center, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Pork Association, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
The partnering organizations have committed to sharing information about farm stress on their social media accounts and providing resources for their members/farmers to learn more about mental health with the ultimate goal of reducing the stigma.
Want to learn more about the Farm Neighbors Care campaign, or be included on the email list? Contact Sarah Hetke via email at email@example.com or phone call at 608.828.5711.
How to Participate:
To participate in the Farm Neighbors Care campaign, you simply need to make or buy a treat (think cookies and milk, coffee and donuts, a hot meal, a bottle of water or anything that will bring a smile to someone’s face) and take a photo. Share the photo of your treat/goodie bag on Facebook with #FarmNeighborsCare and encourage others to do the same. Then deliver the treat or goodie bag to your friend, neighbor or family member and talk with that person to show your support.
Q: Am I supposed to put a picture of the farmer I’m visiting on Facebook?
A: Nope! No need to share a photo or the name of the person you are visiting. Just share a picture of whatever treat or goodie bag you put together.
Q: Why should I participate in this?
A: Farmers are facing a great deal of stress and as farm neighbors (literally and figuratively) we need to step up and show our support.
Q: What if the person I’m talking to seems depressed or is talking about thoughts of suicide?
A: While these kinds of conversations can be uncomfortable, it is especially important to be a support system for our friends, neighbors and family members when they are going through tough times. To learn more about the warning signs of depression or how to support someone who is having thoughts of suicide, visit American Farm Bureau’s Rural Resilience resource page.
Tip: Program the National Suicide Lifeline into your phone contact in case you need it. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
Q: What if I’m battling with chronic stress, depression or thoughts of suicide?
A: If you are dealing with chronic stress, depression or thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. There are resources available to help in times of need. The Wisconsin Farm Center provides free, confidential resources to all farmers in our state. Their services range from free mental health counseling vouchers (with a mental health professional that has agricultural experience) to farm succession planning and financial planning. It is important to contact the Farm Center as soon as possible so they can provide the most number of options to consider. Waiting too late can reduce the options available for farmers to consider, especially in terms of financial planning.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free, confidential support at 1-800-273-8255
Shareable Social Media Graphics:
Consider using these graphics to share more about mental health resources available to farmers, spotting the signs of chronic stress and depression and to break down the stigma associated with mental health in rural communities.