Stress helpline for farmers launched | Community News

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On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced an AgriStress helpline for farmers in Pennsylvania.

The hotline is a free service available to Pennsylvania farmers and farm families seeking mental health support, according to a statement from the state Department of Agriculture.

“Our agricultural 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 Redding. “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 that it’s okay to ask for help.

The AgriStress Helpline for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the release. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak with a healthcare professional.

The AgriStress Helpline for Pennsylvania is supported by a $500,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network awarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to conduct many programs aimed at addressing farmer stress and suicide, the statement said. .

In addition to the ministry’s partnership with AgriSafe to launch the helpline, grant dollars support mental health resources available through the Center for Dairy Excellence, marketing to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma, and regional collaboration with the National Young Farmers Coalition.

A long-time advocate of mental health services for the agricultural sector, Senator Elder Vogel, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, joined Redding in supporting the launch.

“While farmers have traditionally been less likely to seek professional help, it is essential that we connect members of the farming community to the resources needed to ensure they get the help they need when dealing with agricultural issues. a mental health issue,” Vogel said. “The opening of the AgriStress Helpline is a major step forward as we seek to provide access to care for a vital population that so often will bear their burden in silence.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farming or business problems, and fear of losing the farm are the biggest contributors to farmers’ mental health. Cost, embarrassment and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition, the statement said.

“There can be a stigma around seeking help for mental health issues and we need to educate farmers about all the tools available to them,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “This helpline will provide another resource for farmers to contact trained professionals and get the help they need.”

The AgriSafe Network is a non-profit organization working to reduce health disparities in farming communities. AgriSafe supports a network of trained farm health and safety professionals to provide preventative services to farm families, according to the release.

“The AgriStress Response Network seeks to eliminate the stigma surrounding access to support for mental health, including stress, depression, anxiety and suicide,” the statement read.

Anyone who works in Pennsylvania agriculture and would like to speak to someone is encouraged to contact the AgriStress Helpline by calling 833-897-AGRI (2474).

For more information about the AgriStress Helpline for Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov and click on the Mental Wellness icon.

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