Farmer Mental Health Training at Wayne County Penn State Extension

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Need help?Mental health crisis resources are available for Pocono residents

Wayne County was once home to over 1,500 dairy farms. Today, there are less than 50 left.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, agricultural or business problems, and fear of losing one’s farm are major contributors to farmers’ mental health.

The cost of getting help, combined with the embarrassment and stigma of needing it, can be a barrier to farmers getting the help they need to manage their stress and well-being. to be mental.

Local groups are teaming up to help farmers and many others in the agriculture industry identify and manage the most mentally taxing aspects of their profession this month. The Center for Dairy Excellence is partnering with the Center for Beef Excellence, Center for Poultry & Livestock, PA Beef Producers Working Group, and Penn State Extension Dairy and Livestock Teams to host a free workshop on Tuesday, April 26 at the Penn State Extension Bureau in Honesdale ( 648 Park Street, Suite E.)

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., workshop participants will learn which stressful situations specific to the agricultural industry can affect mental health, as well as how to identify signs of stress in themselves and other farmers. The training will also include how best to approach someone under stress, how to offer them help and what resources are available to help them. Times are tough and producers could struggle. Typically, agriculture industry professionals are trained in production agriculture, not human health and wellbeing,” Dr. Ginger Fenton said in a press release. “The goal of these workshops is to help prepare agriculture industry professionals to recognize stressful situations and be better equipped to provide tools and resources to share with farmers when needed.” Fenton is a Dairy Extension Educator at Penn State Extension and one of the workshop facilitators.

“These workshops are ideal for anyone in contact with breeders and concerned about their mental and general well-being.” Fenton wrote in the release. “This may include lenders, agricultural agency staff, nutritionists, inspectors and regulatory staff, veterinarians, educators, consultants, agronomists and other agricultural industry professionals or members of farm families.” To register for the workshop, visit centerfordairyexcellence.org/workshops or call 717-346-0849.

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AgriStress Helpline offers mental health services to farmers

On February 11, 2022, the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced the AgriStress Helpline, a new free service available to help farmers deal with mental stress. “Our farming community faces unique challenges. Farmers often work alone, live where they work and face the pressures of changing markets, unpredictable weather, business transitions and legacy,” said PA Agriculture Secretary, Russell Redding, in a press release announcing the service. “These stressors can weigh heavily on individuals and families, but help is available. The AgriStress Helpline is a tool to connect farmers to mental health resources and health professionals. We want people to know they can ask for help. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers are encouraged to call 833-897-2474 (AGRI) for mental health assistance. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert in a press release. “This helpline will provide another resource for farmers to contact trained professionals and get the help they need.” According to PDA, some indicators of declining mental health among agricultural professionals include:

  • Decline in crop, animal and farm care
  • Deterioration of personal appearance
  • Withdraw from social events
  • Increase in agricultural accidents
  • Change of routine
  • Increase in physical complaints
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Donate valuable goods

the AgriSafe Network– a group of agriculture-minded health professionals and educators who seek to “reduce health disparities within the farming community” – links their mental health to another piece of farm equipment that is necessary to continue farming. “Ignoring the signs that your farm equipment is not working properly can lead to more expense, downtime and lost equipment.” Their website, agrisafe.org, said. “Ignoring the signs that your mental well-being needs a tune-up can also lead to reduced production uptime, increased healthcare costs, and potentially spill over to other parts of your life. life, including agricultural workers and those for whom you work so hard and provide.”

According to the AgriSafe Network fact sheet, 20% of any population, including farmers and ranchers, have mental health complications. The fact sheet also notes that prolonged periods of stress can negatively impact mental well-being, potentially leading to depressive and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and self-harm. Some indicators that a person may be at risk or self-harming include:

  • Talk about suicide or focus on death
  • Changes in eating or sleeping
  • Stopping or accumulating medication
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Aggressive or disruptive behavior, or increased irritability

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please feel free to call 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) or 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273 -TALK)

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