Natural disasters, volatile commodity prices, a global pandemic – no wonder farmers are experiencing high volumes of stress! Mental health is just as important as physical safety on the farm. The American Farm Bureau Federation is leading the discussion for more mental health resources for rural American and farmers through a rural stress sounding board made up of Farm Bureau members from across the nation. Covington County board member, Shannon Rogers is a member of the sounding board.

‘My role on the board is to network with other board members from various states and discuss what has worked for them in their state, toss ideas around about new avenues we can take to get help to farmers in rural communities,” said Rogers. “The AFBF team helps us get this information out to rural America.”

The goal of the sounding board is to focus on the topics of stress, depression and mental health and get farmers more help by identifying what their needs are, while also helping farmers feel like they can come forward and talk about what they are going through, and in turn, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

One of the biggest ideas this group is working on is tele-health. Farmers are known for being resilient and, oftentimes, private individuals. Tele-health would give them the ability to seek out help from a counselor within the privacy of their own home. There is also movement on the topic of tele-health in Washington D.C. as Senator Mike Rounds, South Dakota and Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota introduced the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020. The Act would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in coordination with the Rural Health Liaison of the Department of Agriculture to award grants for home-based telemental health care demonstrations. AFBF also supports this bill.

Rogers has also created Mental Health Monday posts on her Facebook page and the Covington County Farm Bureau page including the hastag, #resilientandconnected. Her posts include links to articles and podcasts regarding mental health awareness, reducing the stigma, and positive messages.

“If you or someone you know is struggling with daily stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or other mental health challenges, you are not alone. Reach out and ask for help. Your mental health is important,” said Rogers

Here are ways you or someone you know can get the help they need:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741  *text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

Farm Aid Farmer Hotline: 1-800-FARM-AID

Podcasts: TransFARMation: https://www.rrfn.com/transfarmation/

Rural Resilience Training (any Farm Bureau member can register for this FREE online training):

https://www.canr.msu.edu/managing_farm_stress/rural-resiliency-online-course-afbf