American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) calls itself the voice of agriculture.
In recognition of Mental Health Month AFBF has launched a comprehensive, easy-to-use online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers, and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges.
For today’s KX Ag & Energy Insight we take a look at the Farm State of Mind Resource Directory.
Jessica Cabrera is Managing Director for Member Engagement for ABFB.
“The farm life can be stressful. Finances, weather impact, the market, and the economy compounded by COVID-19,” explained Cabrera.
In 2019 AFBF began a national survey to assess the need for mental health resources for rural communities.
“There are so many different variables that out of a farmer’s control that really do impact the level of stress and anxiety that folks experience in these rural communities,” said Cabrera.
AFBF partnered with the University of Georgia’s Dean of the School of Social Work, Dr. Anna Scheyett, a Dickinson College alum, to collect data that would give insight into the farm state of mind.
“Two in three farmers or farm workers which was 66 percent say that the pandemic has impacted their mental health. And, farmers or farm workers are 10% more likely than rural adults to experience feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or on edge,” explained Cabrera
AFBF then partnered with all the state and county farm bureaus to compile available resources on the local level. North Dakota Farm Bureau of course rose to the challenge.
“In 2019 the NDFB promotion and education committee wanted to do something for farmers and ranchers and rural North Dakota, letting them know that they’re not alone in times of challenge,” explained NDFB Director of Public Relations Lisa Hauf.
NDFB put together a five episode podcast called Conversations on Coping. Topics range anywhere from managing financial stress to how the depression of one person can effect the whole family.
“Farmers and Ranchers, they are very independent people and they’re used to conquering things on their own and so I think it’s the mindset that it’s ok to reach out and talk to people and letting them know that it’s normal thing to do and that’s natural, but it’s not natural for them to want to reach out for help. So it’s just bringing awareness to that,” explained Hauf.
Farm State of Mind Resource Directory currently has has more than 130 national and state listing on it. AFBF has created a sounding board to add more resources.
Jessica Cabrera tells KX News the next big step is reducing the stigma of mental health in farming communities.