indiana Prairie Farmer Logo

Mental health not only for May

Letters From the Farmhouse: A fourth grader’s haiku shines light on the state of farmer mental health.

Allison Lund, Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

May 30, 2024

3 Min Read
A young woman sitting on the ground next to a cow
REFLECT: Simply taking some time to pause work and evaluate how you feel can be a big step toward improving your mental health. Judy Lund

Grain bins getting full
Farmers working every day
Never get to rest

The above poem is a haiku that my 10-year-old cousin August created in school. He recently found out that it was selected to advance to a statewide competition, where he will get to represent his school.

When his dad told me his poem was selected, I was ecstatic. When I was in school, it was always a big deal to move on to state competitions for different academic events. This would be a neat opportunity for August — even though his older sister, Josie, was a little jealous that she did not advance to this competition when she was his age. There’s nothing quite like a little sibling rivalry.

What is bigger than that, however, and the main reason for my excitement, is that this haiku will shine some light on the agriculture community. Far too often, people from outside of agriculture fall into the mindset that farmers are relaxing on the porch swing as they watch their cattle roam in front of a sunset straight from a painting.

A short window

Mental Health Awareness Month, which spans May, has done wonders in exposing some of the hard truths about the state of mental health in the agriculture community. Companies are sharing posts with tips for managing mental health, farmers’ stories are being highlighted, and everyone touts the “advocate” title.

Related:Mental health care easier said than done

But for any major shifts to take place, mental health needs to be made a priority beyond the month of May. And this is something that will take effort from both sides.

August’s poem helps raise awareness for those outside of the agriculture community by giving a brief glimpse at what life on the farm looks like. It’s busy. It’s exhausting. And it’s far from easy.

However, those of us involved in agriculture will need to do our part. This means checking in on our mental health and not dismissing it as a frivolous concept that does not apply to farm life. It means taking advantage of resources from different commodity groups and agriculture organizations that will help us to better manage mental health and promote a positive mindset.

To take it a step further, it would be great for people from all corners of the agriculture industry to participate in mental health training that can empower them to identify warning signs in others who may need help.

Whatever it is that you choose to do to keep mental health top of mind, make sure it extends beyond the promotion that takes place in May. While Mental Health Awareness Month puts a spotlight on the topic and generates conversation, it is up to you to make sure those conversations trickle into the rest of the year.

Be like August. Take a moment to identify some of those struggles you may face on your farm. Write them down if it helps — or maybe go so far as to write a poem that will require even deeper thinking. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and share it. You just might inspire someone else to do the same.

About the Author(s)

Allison Lund

Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Allison Lund worked as a staff writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer before becoming editor in 2024. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in agricultural communications and a minor in crop science. She served as president of Purdue’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. In 2022, she received the American FFA Degree. 

Lund grew up on a cash grain farm in south-central Wisconsin, where the primary crops were corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Her family also raised chewing tobacco and Hereford cattle. She spent most of her time helping with the tobacco crop in the summer and raising Boer goats for FFA projects. She lives near Winamac, Ind.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like