Farmers focus on mental health

By Garrett Hawkins

On the farm, the to-do list seems to never end and only grows when the weather isn’t cooperating. For my family, we found a small window when it was dry enough to wean the calves a few weeks ago – and it’s been raining intermittently since then, delaying other much-needed work.

Challenges such as the weather are part of farming and ranching. It’s a tough business filled with tough people, both physically and mentally. Sometimes the strong heads and strong personalities that help us last in a tough business, however, can get the better of us. Hours spent alone in the cab of a truck or tractor can be lonely and give our worries time and space to lean on themselves.

If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Then we think of missed family dinners and football games and bills to pay. Then Mother Nature punches like she did in May where it never seemed to dry out.

Sometimes we just need to catch our breath and take a break. But there are times when the weight can seem too much. That’s why the American Farm Bureau Federation recently unveiled a website called “Farm State of Mind.” There anyone can find a directory of state-by-state stress and mental health resources, tips for helping someone with emotional pain, ways to start a conversation, and additional resources for dealing with stress. anxiety or depression.

May served as National Mental Health Awareness Month, highlighting the need for rural mental health resources. At the Missouri Farm Bureau, we want to continue providing help throughout the year. That’s why we partnered with MU Extension for a training webinar on the “Ask, Persuade, Refer” technique to interact with someone who may be at risk for suicide. Exclusively for Farm Bureau members, this one-hour online course will help participants recognize the warning signs of suicide and learn how to intervene. Information is available on our website, social media platforms or directly through MU Extension.

As farmers and ranchers, we pride ourselves on being strong and independent. This does not mean that we have to tackle all challenges, including mental health, on our own. We can and should support each other to get the help – both physical and emotional – that we might need.

If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issue, please do not hesitate to contact us. A healthy farm or ranch is nothing without you being healthy.

Garrett Hawkins is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. This column has already been published by MOFB and is republished with permission.

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