AFBF helps mental health with Farm State of Mind, online course
Early this year, American Farm Bureau Federation took over operation of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign, an initiative to raise mental health awareness among the farming community. The campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau plans to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives.
Challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey showed that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. In addition, 48% of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Nearly one in three farmers doesn’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family members about solutions for a mental health condition.
The campaign is designed to encourage an open dialogue among farmers through social channels and offers a variety of tips, resources and referrals to address mental health needs. Farm State of Mind has already reached millions of farmers across the country and that number continues to grow.
Bayer provided Farm Bureau with a financial contribution to help support the transition and future success of the Farm State of Mind campaign. The campaign can be accessed at www.gfb.ag/FarmStateofMind.
In addition to Farm State of Mind, AFBF, Farm Credit and the National Farmers Union have launched a free online training course and made it available to the general public.
Developed by Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) and University of Illinois Extension (Illinois UIExtension), the course provides participants with skills to understand the sources of stress, manage their own stress, learn the warning signs of stress and suicide, identify effective communication strategies, reduce stigma related to mental health concerns and connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources.
This online course builds upon past training materials Michigan State University Extension developed beginning in 2016 and tailored for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in 2019. Additional courses and specific training have since educated employees and members of Farm Credit, Farm Bureau and Farmers Union nationwide.
Anyone can register for the free, online training course. It is funded by a grant from Farm Credit and supported by MSU Extension and Illinois Extension. To sign up for the course visit www.gfb.ag/farmstressmgmtcourse.