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Navigating Farm Stress Resources

Navigating Farm Stress Resources

By Adriana Murillo-Williams and Linda Fetzer

Does this sound familiar? You just invested a large amount of money in your farm operation and now the success of your business depends on the timing and amount of rain you get in your area over the next four months. Does that generate some anxiety?

Farmers are exposed to many occupational safety and health hazards which can threaten their physical, mental, spiritual, and financial well-being. In addition, a slew of uncontrollable variables, like rain, dictates the success of the agricultural business. Weather will directly affect crop and animal production; however, risks will also come from the fluctuation in markets and input prices, access to credit, and laws and regulations that affect the operation (1).

The frequency and variety of risks that farmers face significantly impact their mental health. Farmers take pride of ownership, meeting challenges, and build self-respect by doing a worthwhile job (2). Therefore, they are expected to be that one-person army that can conquer all problems alone. And we know that the Cordell Walker-Texas Ranger only exists on TV even though we sometimes wish he was here to help! In addition, the stigma surrounding wellness and mental health conversations may prevent farmers from seeking help, even when they are experiencing anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Therefore, it is crucial to raise awareness among our community members about the resources that are available to someone who is dealing with a challenging situation or experiencing a crisis. Also know that you can make a call on behalf of someone else or assist them in making a call.

The AgriStress Helpline (call or text 833-897-2474) is available 24/7. It provides mental health support through assessing immediate needs, for example, the potential for self-harm. The Helpline is attended by professionals trained on the issues farmers and farm workers face.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a country-wide network that provides free and confidential support 24/7 and provides services in English and Spanish.. Dial the three-digit code 988 to access the Helpline. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss there is a chat option on their website. For TTY users, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

The Veterans Crisis Line provide confidential crisis support for veterans and their loved ones. The access the helpline call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255.

Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services offers resources from the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) for mental and substance use disorders. The services provided are through the PA Support & Referral Helpline 1-855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600) and the Crisis Text Line (text PA to 741741).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also provides free and confidential support to individuals facing substance use disorder or requiring mental health support through the SAMHSA's National Help Line (1-800-662-4357). The service is provided in English or Spanish and is available 24/7. 

The Crisis Text Line provides support to those experiencing a crisis. This free service will connect you with a trained Crisis Counselor when you text 741741 from anywhere in the United States.

For members of the Plain Community, mental health services sensitive to the values of the community are available through WellSpan Philhaven by calling at 717-989-8661.

The  Farm Stress Team   at Penn State Extension provides training on how to spot signs of depression and how to approach farmers that may be experiencing high levels of stress. The training targets anybody who knows or is in contact with farmers through family, friends, or business. Attendees will learn about the resources and helplines that are available when somebody is experiencing a mental health crisis, however, the team does not offer supportive counseling.

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