Wisconsin Strong - Mental Health
“The farming community has always been – lace up your boot straps and go do it again,” said Ben Huber, a Green County agronomist. But what happens when that way of thinking isn’t enough. As any farmer or rancher can tell you, farm life can be demanding and stressful. It’s even tougher now with trade wars, natural disasters, depressed commodity prices, labor shortages and many other issues weighing heavily on the farm economy. Given these challenges, more and more farmers today are experiencing stress and mental health issues, either directly or by having a friend or family member in distress.
Never underestimate the power of a conversation. Farmers are under a great deal of stress and a simple conversation just might be the dose of positivity your neighbor needs to make it through a tough day. Stop by with a snack, meal or just a friendly conversation.
Rural Mutual Insurance promises to protect Wisconsin farms, families and businesses and to help rebuild following times of unintended loss. We also understand that not all losses are physical and recognize the importance of Mental Health during these times as well.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to a close friend or family member. People want to help, all you have to do is be open to having a conversation.
“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.”
Warning Signs of Stress
When someone is experiencing a mental health challenge, they may not even realize it. Here’s how you can identify someone who may be at risk.
- Change in routines
- Decline in the care of domestic animals
- Increase in illness
- Increase in farm accidents
- Decline in appearance of farmstead
- Signs of stress in children
- Decreased interest
Five Steps to Help Someone at Risk
- Keep them safe
- Be there
- Help them connect
- Follow up
If you know someone or even suspect someone is struggling, you don’t have to go at this alone. There are great resources to help you and anyone in need. Just pick up the phone and call.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
Farm Neighbors Care is a social media campaign to support our farmers who are facing stress due to low market prices, poor weather and crop conditions, etc. Farming can be an isolating career, especially if other family members work off the farm. It is important to check in on your friends, neighbors and family members to gauge how they are doing and offer support and a listening ear.
The campaign asks rural residents to have face-to-face conversations with farmers and agri-business owners. For some, this conversation and check-in may be the dose of positivity needed to make it through a tough day. Want to learn more about the Farm Neighbors Care campaign, or be included on the email list? Contact Sarah Hetke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone call at 608.828.5711.
The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the Seeding Rural Resilience Act sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which is designed to help farmers respond to stress and decrease the stigma associated with mental health care in rural communities.
Rural Resilience Training Program developed by Michigan State University Extension in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and Farm Credit, the online training program is designed for individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers to help recognize signs of stress and offer resources.
“This free training comes at the perfect time and provides Farm Bureau staff and members a meaningful way to make a difference in their communities,” said RJ Karney, AFBF director of congressional relations.
The program will give participants the skills to understand the sources of stress, learn the warning signs of stress and suicide, identify effective communication strategies, reduce stigma related to mental health concerns and connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources. The training takes about 4-5 hours to complete and can be done over multiple sessions.
Even big ships need a little help sometimes.
TUGS is a nonprofit community organization founded in 2013 with a singular mission: to address the stigma surrounding mental health challenges and suicide, particularly among those members of our society who find it most difficult to accept and express their very real personal struggles and professional frustrations. We work directly with individuals and in partnership with other community groups to promote both mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Also look to join the TUGS Community group on Facebook to share local and virtual resources during this difficult time. Our goal is to help you help each other! We hope you’ll add to the list whenever you happen across something that might benefit the community. www.facebook.com/groups/tugsgroup
Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
The Wisconsin Farm Center provides information and support to farmers and their families in order to help grow Wisconsin’s agricultural economy. The Center partners with industry groups, government and educational entities, and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Farmers and small agribusiness owners can reach the Farm Center through the toll-free number at 1-800-942-2474, or stop in on the Fourth Floor of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection office building at 2811 Agriculture Dr., Madison. Office hours and the toll free are available from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays. Resources are free and confidential for Wisconsin farmers. Farmers can receive counseling vouchers to meet with a counselor in their area. You can also contact the Farm Center by email at email@example.com
The Farm Center can now connect callers to a 24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-888-901-2558. Licensed mental health professionals contracted by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will provide immediate, in-the-moment care.
Unexpected Tomorrow Workshops
Hosted by DATCP’s Farm Center, the ‘Unexpected Tomorrows’ workshops are designed to help Wisconsin farmers deal with increased stress, depression and family issues brought on by prolonged downturn in the farming economy. For more information and date, please contact the Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474.
Farm Couples Weekends
Tough economic times in the agricultural sector can take a toll on farm couples, with increased stress associated with financial challenges often leading to difficulties communicating and making effective decisions.
To help Wisconsin farm couples learn about stress management techniques, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension are hosting a series of Farm Couples Weekend Workshops throughout the year. Click the link to learn more https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/farmstress/farmcouples/
- Financial Planning
- Farm Succession
- Conflict Mediation
- Herd Based Diagnostics
- Farm Outreach
- Organics, Grazing and Specialty Crops
Farmer Angel Network
The Farmer Angel Network is a collaboration of Sauk County Public Health, Sauk County UWEX, Project Recovery, local churches, and concerned farmers whose goal is to support area farmers through a time of depressed farm income, challenging cropping season and the highest rate of farm bankruptcies and exits since 1930’s. Mental Health awareness and support resources are the key focus of this effort.
Early in 2019, a series of 3 Farm Stress & Suicide Awareness programs were held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Loganville, as an effort to address immediate needs of local farmers and agribusiness personnel.
The Farmer Angel Network has since been formed to continue to support area farmers and educate the public about the issues farmers are facing. Check out the Farmers Angel Network Facebook page to learn more.
Great Rivers 2-1-1
At different points in our lives, we can all use a little help—whether it’s parenting concerns, putting food on the table, dealing with an abusive situation, or just making ends meet. But we don’t always know when—or where—to ask for that help. Great Rivers 2-1-1 is a place to make the connections that can help you find answers and prevent problems from getting more serious. Using a comprehensive resource database, 2-1-1 Information and referral specialists will listen to your concerns, help you make informed decisions and link you to the most appropriate community resources.
Great Rivers 2-1-1 serves 21 counties in Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa.
- Wisconsin: Buffalo, Chippewa, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Richland, Trempealeau and Vernon counties
- Minnesota: Houston, Fillmore and Winona counties
- Iowa: Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties
Great Rivers 2-1-1 also operates three Public Health Hotlines for the state of Wisconsin. These hotlines provide information regarding public benefits and other resources for women, children, and families of children with special needs statewide.