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U.S. Organizations Have Allied To Provide Much-Needed Mental Health Resources For Farm Families

By Steve Mercer

A communications professional group of which I am a member recently shared information about a topic that is difficult, but vitally important to continue U.S. wheat’s promise of “Dependable People, Reliable Wheat.” It is mental health and other wellness issues for wheat farm families and within their rural communities who make up the U.S. wheat supply system.

In this “Wheat Letter” blog, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) usually focuses on practical information about the quality and value of U.S. wheat and supporting services.

It is also important for customers to understand that farming is a stressful way of life with increasing challenges. Multiple studies show that farmer suicide rates are up to five times higher than the national average. Natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial uncertainty, fluctuating markets, labor shortages, trade disruptions, and other factors all contribute to extreme stress or mental health issues for farmers and ranchers who often live in a very isolated setting.

Mental Health Safety Net

At a recent online discussion, the U.S.-based Farm Foundation and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) introduced their work to provide crucial mental health services to those dependable people who supply wheat to the world. The organizations are part of a landmark alliance launching free, anonymous, mental health and wellbeing services to provide a nationwide safety net of confidential and on-demand mental health support to farmers, ranchers, and farm families. Unveiled at the AFBF 2024 Convention in January 2024, the Farm Family Wellness Alliance (FFWA) provides solutions to build farm family wellness and access to an understanding community.

That access is provided in this alliance through Togetherall, a safe, clinically moderated peer-to-peer community, where members around the world are there to listen, support and give members’ mental wellbeing a boost. Through an anonymous profile, users can access a global network of peers, backed by the safeguarding of licensed clinicians overseeing the community around-the-clock.

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