Farm and ranch life can be demanding and stressful. Over the past several years, mental health has reached a critical stage for the people who grow America’s food with COVID-19 pandemic impacts on top of natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial pressures due to fluctuating commodity prices, labor shortages, trade disruptions and a long list of other factors. Given these ongoing challenges, it’s no surprise that more farmers and farm families are experiencing stress and mental health concerns.
That is why, during Agricultural Safety Awareness Week (March 6-10), Nebraska Farm Bureau worked to remind everyone that advocating for farmer mental health wellness is a way to save lives. Something as simple as sharing information, starting a conversation, listening, and reaching out for help can make a dramatic difference.
When loved ones, neighbors, or others you care about are experiencing mental health challenges, they may not even realize it. You can identify someone who may be at risk of chronic stress, depression, or suicidal intent by observing the signs below.
- Change in routines or social activities.
- Decline in the care of domestic animals, including pets and livestock.
- Increase in illness or other chronic conditions.
- Increase in farm accidents.
- Decline in appearance of the farmstead.
- Decreased interest in activities or events.
- Signs of stress in children including struggles with school.
To start a conversation with your loved one, share a habit you’ve seen change. Don’t wait for them to ask for help. If they’re willing to reach out, encourage them. Try not to compare their challenges to someone else’s or minimize what they’re going through. What matters most is showing genuine care and empathy and listening.
Together, we can make mental health a priority on our farms and ranches, and in our rural communities. Visit the Farm State of Mind website for additional information including a national and state mental health resource directory.