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Extension personnel to present mental health information at community meetings, trained to recognize signs of stress.

Farm Press Staff

August 11, 2022

2 Min Read
Drought, high input costs and volatile markets make for a stressful production environment in 2022. Stress management resources for farmers and ranchers and their families are available. There's hope and help. Shelley E. Huguley

Mental health resources for New Mexico farmer and ranchers and their families are available through a program called Here to Help New Mexico. The program's emphasis is aimed at helping producers deal with stressors and stress management. 

"As they face endless difficult challenges – including drought, wildfires and high input costs – our farmers and ranchers need our support now more than ever, especially related to stress and mental health,” said New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte. “The pressure of feeding the world is real. While our New Mexico farmers and ranchers are resilient, they are not immune to stress, so it is important that these resources are available.”

Here to Help New Mexico is a collaboration between New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. Extension will discuss mental health in community education programs throughout the state. But Tom Dean, Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center co-director, acknowledges there are challenges in discussing this topic in a public format. 

“Most people don’t want to talk about it in a public program,” Dean said. “Our primary emphasis is dealing with stressors and stress management. If we can do that, we can help promote those conversations after community meetings and help people identify when someone might be in trouble with issues.”

Here to Help New Mexico also will aid families impacted by the state's recent wildfires.

Recognizing the signs

Extension faculty are trained to recognize signs of mental health, especially when working with youth involved in agricultural programs.

“We’re trying to do what we can to build up our resources and capabilities to do more of this,” Dean said. “If we can help somebody have a more positive outcome and deal with issues out there, that’s the impact we are hoping to have.”

The Here to Help New Mexico website lists the following signs and symptoms of mental health challenges:

  • Change in routines or social activities 

  • Decline in the care of domestic animals

  • Increase in illness or other chronic conditions

  • Increase in farm accidents

  • Decline in the appearance of the farmstead

  • Decreased interest in activities or events

  • Signs of stress in children

The website also features information about helping someone in emotional pain, crisis hotline numbers, an assessment survey to address community stress and health, and “Stress Free You” videos with Matt and Katy Rush. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, dial the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This national helpline, launched July 16, provides 24/7 support for a mental health crisis.

Additional Farm Press mental health resources:

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