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Prioritizing well being - mental health in agriculture

Prioritizing well being - mental health in agriculture

By Blake Jackson

Spring is a vibrant time, but for farmers, it's a season of intense work and dependence on unpredictable weather. While many find this period refreshing, farmers grapple with the pressure of planting crops that nourish communities.

While my background isn't in farming, I always knew it would be part of my future. As an agribusiness leader now launching my own farm, I've experienced firsthand the toll busy seasons take on mental well-being.

A troubling reality is that mental health struggles are prevalent among farmers, farmworkers, and rural adults, according to an American Farm Bureau study. However, seeking help is often hindered by stigma and financial burdens.

The study identified financial concerns, farm issues, and fear of losing the land as top stressors. Stress, weather, isolation, and social stigma were also cited. Encouragingly, 75% of rural adults and 66% of farmers/farmworkers agree reducing mental health stigma in agriculture is crucial.

A healthy farmer is vital to a healthy farm. Long hours and demanding schedules take a physical and mental toll. Prioritizing good nutrition, adequate sleep, and relaxation are key to overall well-being.

Farming can be isolating. During peak seasons, farmers might spend weeks with minimal contact beyond family. Strong relationships are crucial for managing stress and offer support during challenging times, including depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau's Farm Neighbors Care campaign urges rural residents to connect with farmers regularly, not just during busy periods. A simple phone call or a visit, whether from a neighbor, friend, or even a stranger, can make a big difference.

Fortunately, numerous mental health resources are available. The Wisconsin Farm Center's Farmer Wellness Program offers counseling services, including a 24/7 helpline (888-901-2558). The national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988) provides free, confidential support to anyone in crisis.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-ben-goode

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