Fall is a stressful time of year. Harvest is ongoing. Holidays are approaching. And similarities in farmer mental health from the farm crisis in the 1980s are showing up again over this past decade, according to UMASH Outreach Director Megan Schossow.
Poor mental health and stress on farms often stem from things beyond the control of any one person: trade issues, rising input costs, animal disease, and more weigh heavily on farmer’s minds. Additionally, rural communities have changed over the years, with fewer resources available to farmers.
Schossow says folks involved in agriculture tend to be more stressed than the general public, with farm women and children carrying even higher levels than years prior. For some, the burden is too much.
As family members, colleagues, friends, and neighbors, it’s important to know the warning signs for your own mental health and the mental health of others.
Mental Health Warning Signs
● Changes in routines or social activities
● Decreased interest in activities or events
● Decline in the care of domestic animals
● Decline in personal appearance and health
● Decline in farmstead appearance
● Increase in illness
● Increase in farm accidents
● Signs of stress in children
● Making end-of-life adjacent plans, such as giving things away
If you’re noticing signs of mental illness, it can be a hard conversation to start. What matters is showing genuine care, empathy and listening. Wisconsin ag organizations have taken huge strides in providing programs and resources for those struggling.
Farmer Mental Health Resources
● 24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline – 1-888-901-2558
● Wisconsin Farm Center Helpline – 1-800-942-2474
● Farm Aid – 800-FARM-AID
● Crisis Hotline – 988
● Counseling Voucher Program – Get counseling services from a mental health provider in your local area at NO COST. Get a voucher via the 24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline (1-888-901-2558) or Wisconsin Farm Center Helpline (1-800-942-2474)
● Farmer Wellness Tele-Counseling Sessions – Request a session via the 24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline (1-888-901-2558) or Wisconsin Farm Center Helpline (1-800-942-2474)
More resources, including how to help those in need, are available on the UMASH website.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to a close friend or family member. People want to help – all you must do is be open to having a 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. Contact a local agent for more resources near you.