A state ag department will provide producers with access to mental health resources
By Diego Flammini
A state department of agriculture has secured a grant it will use to provide farmers with access to mental health resources.
The Montana Department of Agriculture received $500,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.
The state ag department will use the federal grant to support a stress assistance program aimed at reducing misconceptions about mental health and help producers access support systems.
This includes providing farmers with vouchers for free, confidential counseling services from professionals with ag experience.
Being a farmer is hard, and ensuring resources are available for farmers when they need it is important, said Christy Clark, acting director at the Montana Department of Agriculture.
“Montana’s farmers and ranchers are carrying heavy workloads, braving the elements no matter the weather, not to mention taking care of equipment, animals, family members, and everything else that comes along with their work of feeding the world,” she said in a July 21 statement. “Our department is excited to roll out resources to ensure our producers are taken care of first and foremost, because they are truly the most important part of their operation.”
Farmers are sharing their mental health stories in the hopes they will help others feel confident sharing their own.
Brittany Olson, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, isn’t shy about sharing her story. Doing so helps others understand they are not alone, she said.
“A lot of other people also bear that same cross, and they may not know how to deal with it, or how to reach out for help, and that’s where I can relate to them with my experiences,” she told WEAU 13.
Mental health resources are available for farmers across the country.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, for example, has compiled state and national resources onto its Farm State of Mind page.
The directory includes links and phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention lifeline and other nationwide resources. It also has a search directory for anyone looking for resources closer to home.
Farms.com has also compiled lists of national and state mental health and suicide prevention resources, which can be found here.