February 8, 2022
There's no doubt that farming has changed over the last few decades. What was once an industry focused on the personal muscle required to endure tough farm work has evolved into a business bringing new challenges. Among them is a new kind of stress that many may not be prepared to handle – mental stress. So there's no better time to have a guide to mental health resources.
The outward impression of agriculture is of the stalwart farmer enduring the weather, crop failures and livestock losses and moving on. The internal truth is that those setbacks, which these days may appear more frequent, take a toll that even close family members may miss. And the stigma associated with seeking help, while it may be changing, makes reaching out difficult for farmers.
To help with that and provide a private way for farmers to get information they need, for themselves or for another, Farm Progress has created a digital report: Being healthy: Mental health resources for farmers.
The report looks at the stress of farming, putting it into context for readers. For the farmer experiencing trouble, the report offers the assurance that you are not alone. For the concerned family member, the report offers not only insight on the issues, but helpful mental health resources and signs to watch for.
It's difficult to quantify how the weather/economic/social stresses impacting agriculture have affected individual farmers. Surveys reported in this guide show that farming often ends up as part of many Top 10 lists of most stressful occupations. And some report that as many as one-fifth of those farming are experiencing some form of depression.
Ways to seek mental health help
One of the challenges of this issue is getting help and support. For some, the idea that a farmer might be depressed challenges their thinking. This can create a disconnect for the person experiencing a mental health challenge. And self-diagnosis is also a struggle. If you're feeling depressed, it's important to seek help.
The report does offer some key guideposts for noticing depression and other mental illnesses and offers warning signs that a family member might need to help notice when someone needs help. Yet suggesting that a loved one should seek help is not always easy. The report offers a wide range of resources readers can use to find help, including local resources and mental health services.
In addition to resources, readers will find insight on ways to decompress from the stress of farming. Sometimes that means coming to terms with the very idea that farming brings stress. Remember, for many farmers the work is very important, seeing the stresses and challenges to mental health may be difficult.
Sometimes that means identifying the stressors in your operation and working through ways to counter them. The report offers insight into ways stress impacts your mental and physical health, and provides resources to help beat back those issues.
You'll also find tips for reducing your personal farm and ranch stress, which can make a significant difference in the way you deal with challenging issues. And for those watching a loved one deal with stress, perhaps the same tips would come in handy for yourself.
The section – 10 ways to cope with farm and ranch stress – offers concrete tips and useful information for taking on mental stress. With increased weather events, and the changing economy, farmers can use some tools to cope with these issues. And note this isn't advice for you to take up meditation or yoga, these are concrete ideas that can help you burn stress away before it overtakes you.
Helping loved ones
Perhaps the most challenging issue when dealing with mental health isn't about you but about a loved one. How do you know if someone is dealing with stress? What can you do about it? Are there warning signs?
In the report section – How can you help loved ones affected by stress, depression? – you'll find valuable information for identifying if someone in your family is facing mental health issues. Being able to spot those signs of stress, beyond the normal everyday challenges everyone faces, can be valuable.
Mental health has an impact on physical health and that same section offers signs to watch for in a loved one you suspect is having issues. There is also information on how you take on that challenge, even dealing with what may be tough conversations in the family with the person dealing with the challenge.
You'll also find some help for yourself and others to stay healthy through major challenges. The challenges a farmer faces bring to mind tough thoughts, but there are ways to counter that as well. The "inner voice" of any person can help or hinder someone's mental health. This report offers insights on ways to deal with that very challenge. And for the farmer kept up at night by a range of issues, the inner voice may be one of your biggest challenges.
Finally, the report provides resources, listed by state, where you can turn for help whether for you or someone else. Having this report available can also be a way for you to share ideas with someone you feel may be facing trouble. Perhaps they won't reach out, but this guide might offer them the help they need.
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