Shedding Light on Mental Health in the Farming Community

rewrite this content and create paragraphs by Allison Lund Farmers prioritize the health of their livestock, plants and soil, but mental health should be part of that. With stressors so different from other occupations, it is becoming increasingly important for farmers to keep mental health at the forefront of their minds. Roger Wenning is a farmer and excavator from Greensburg, Indiana. Since losing his grandson Travis a few years ago, he has struggled with depression and is now dedicated to sharing his own mental health journey to help others. “I never thought it would happen,” Wenning says of his depression. “It can happen to farmers, it can happen to me.” He had a hard time recognizing that he was showing signs of depression. He was also told by those close to him that he should be strong because he was the head of the family. “People I trusted told me, ‘Just put up with it,'” Wenning said. In order to realize that something was wrong, they volunteered to drive Mr. Wening to an appointment and look for resources that could help him. That’s when Wenin realized he needed to put his mental health first. Wenin soon realized that even though the warning signs of his depression had been around him for quite some time, he hadn’t focused on it. Looking back on these experiences, I realized that if I hadn’t asked for help, things could have gone horribly wrong. “When I was in the depths of my depression, there were some situations where I was very questionable as to whether it was dangerous,” Wenin said. “I could have been hurt or worse.” Breaking down the stigma, Mr. Wenning said that there is a stigma against mental illness in rural communities and that he is getting help to overcome it. explain that it can be difficult to Farmers are also often isolated and their mental health can deteriorate if left alone. During this time, Wenning said he struggled with his faith and felt angry with God. But then he realized it was important to talk to clergy and parishioners to help with his mental health. “I lost my faith, but the effort to get back helped the healing process,” says Wenning. “I’m not quite there yet, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.” Something I’ll always remember: Roger Wenning joined his grandson Travis’ parents, Nick and Julie. rice field. his sister, Josie; With his brother Henry around the playground equipment that a local business donated to the school he attended in memory of Travis. (Photo credit: Roger Wenning) Moving forward, Wenning believes the best way forward is to promote mental health through field days, flyers in agribusiness, and further publicity on the subject. He also believes that just being there for his friend in need can be of great help. This is as easy as talking on the phone. “There’s probably a problem and that’s why they called you,” says Wenning. “They may not be ready to speak, but sit there and listen.” Available resources Purdue has a relatively new farm stress team in his extension, which is helping farmers and communities committed to educating and connecting farmers with their mental health resources. Angela Sorg is also a licensed therapist. At Purdue Extension she works as a health and human sciences educator. She was part of the original group that pioneered the Farm Stress Team. Sorg explains that the Farm Stress team has programs designed to help farmers, their families and communities recognize signs of stress and other mental illnesses. These programs are designed to fit a farmer’s lifestyle and are readily available. The program is designed as her one-hour workshop, appearing for the first time at existing events such as pesticide training. These programs received an immediate positive response and increased demand. “One farmer in particular came to us and said, ‘I would have walked away if I had known this class was about mental health, but that’s what I do,'” she said. “We are listening to farmers at various farm shows and events so that they can feel what is needed within the farming community right now,” Sorg said. says. “We could do programming all day, but if it’s not what the farmer needs, it’s kind of pointless.” Immediate help: Purdue Extension’s farm stress team works across Indiana is enthusiastic about speaking with farmers and other agricultural professionals at our events. (Photo credit: Purdue Extension) In addition to educating farmers and their communities, Sorg noted that the team is working with mental health providers to educate them about the culture of farming and better prepare them to help their customers. Mr. Share. The team is also working on training crisis call center employees to better serve the farming community. Connecting farmers with therapists and sharing other counseling options is a top priority for Sorg’s team. She points out that virtual therapy, online mental health screenings, and clergy can be great resources for farmers looking to talk to someone. But Sorg understands that not everyone is ready to talk. “We never tell farmers to get over that stigma because it exists and it’s a barrier to seeking treatment,” says Sorg. “We want to continue to inform farmers. They feed us every day, so we want to continue to support and feed them.” Because they feed us every day.” For more resources, visit the Purdue Farm Stress web page. Lund is a summer intern at Farm Progress. She writes from West Lafayette, Indiana.

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