Farmers feed America — no matter what. When a person’s livelihood depends on the whims of the weather, on futures markets and fuel prices, and involves long hours of hard work with very few chances to take time off, it can wear on the mental health of those who sow, raise, harvest and ship our nation’s daily bread — as well as our daily fruit, vegetables and meat.
Marshfield Clinic Health System in Wisconsin saw that the farmers in its agricultural communities were experiencing a higher rate of depression and a higher rate of death by suicide than people in other occupations, and they stepped in to help. The help was needed: While the American Farm Bureau Federation found that 61% of farmers reported experiencing more stress and mental health challenges in 2021 than in 2020, 46% reported it is difficult to find mental health services in their communities. Consequently, Marshfield Clinic Health System trained dozens of community members in mental health first aid.
This initiative means that bankers, insurance agents and others who have frequent contact with farmers are now trained to recognize red flags that may signal that a farmer is struggling mentally. They are now the first line of defense in a community that is often hesitant or unable to seek help. Now members of their community can spot signs of depression, anxiety and possible suicidal ideation. Now the help comes to them.
Read more about this innovative work to serve rural communities.