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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month: Join the U.S. Ag Safety and Health Centers' Effort to Promote Resources for Farmers and Rural Communities

Apr 30, 2019

Data tell us that farmers have higher than average suicide rates in the U.S. We want to help farmers fight the stigma surrounding mental health and provide a safe environment to address their mental health concerns and maintain a mental health support system. Eleven federally-funded Agricultural Safety and Health Centers are coordinating this effort to help reduce the stigma about metal health, promote empathy to those dealing with stress, and help people connect with resources to better cope with on-farm stresses.

In 2019, American farmers and their families are facing tough challenges. Where can they turn to get help with stress-inducing challenges like economic uncertainties of tariffs, drops in commodity prices, and weather challenges?

Agricultural safety and health professionals across the country have banded together to compile tools to help support farmer mental health. Eleven federally-funded Agricultural Safety and Health Centers are participating in the 2019 Mental Health Awareness month, bringing the “Break the Stigma” campaign to rural and agricultural communities across the country. The University of Iowa’s Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) is reaching out to farmers in our nine-state region (IA, IL, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, and WI).

Resources are available for the Midwestern farmer, including crisis hotline phone numbers, but they don’t stop there. Information on ways to identify stress in yourself -- and in others -- are discussed through videos, stories, and posters, with the hope of raising awareness about handling stress on the farm and building support networks.

“We are hoping to build a safe space for farmers and rural residents to open up about their stresses and seek support for mental health if necessary,” says Renée Anthony, director of the GPCAH. Webinars focused on frank conversations surrounding risk and protective factors related to farmer suicide (May 10) and to opioid overdose prevention in rural communities (May 21) have been scheduled to bring these topics out of the shadows and to provide helpful information for farmers and those that support them.

To bring attention to the on-farm stress and mental resiliency, national partners will use social media from April 29 through May 26 to provide farmer-relevant tools:

  • Week 1: Science of Stress and Suicide Risk
  • Week 2: Referral Resources
  • Week 3. Coping with Substance Abuse/Opioids
  • Week 4: Cultivating Resiliency
  • Week 5: Break the Stigma

The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health has materials and resources available to you to share with your networks and join in the on-farm stress conversation. The “Media Kit” has the green mental health ribbon to share with these stories throughout May’s Mental Health Awareness month. Follow #GPCAH on Facebook and Twitter or use hashtags: #USAgCenters #WhyCare #GreenRibbon, #CureStigma.

Source: Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health