As farmers, ranchers and rural Oklahomans, helping our friends and neighbors is in our nature. With the ever-increasing challenges facing the agriculture community today, it’s important – now more than ever – that we keep an eye out for our peers struggling to deal with stress or mental health issues.
Below are some resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with stress in themselves, their families and their communities.
Warning Signs of Stress
When someone is experiencing a mental health challenge, they may not even realize it. Here’s how you can identify someone who may be at risk.
- Change in routines: Farmers or members of the farm family may change who attends a market, stop attending regular meetings or religious activities, drop out of other groups, or fail to stop at the local coffee shop or feed mill.
- Decline in the care of domestic animals: Livestock or pets may not be cared for in the usual way.
- Increase in illness: Farmers or farm family members may experience more upper respiratory illnesses (cold, flu) or other chronic conditions (aches, pains, persistent cough, migraines).
- Increase in farm accidents: The risk of farm accidents increases with fatigue or loss of ability to concentrate. Children may be at risk if there isn’t alternative child care.
- Decline in appearance of farmstead: The farm family no longer takes pride in the way farm buildings and grounds appear.
- Signs of stress in children: Farm children may act out, show a decline in academic performance, or be increasingly absent from school. They may also show signs of physical abuse or neglect, or become depressed.
- Decreased interest: Farmers or farm families may be less willing to commit to future activities, sign up for gatherings, or show interest in community events.
Source: NY FarmNet
Five Steps to Help Someone at Risk
- Keep them safe
- Be there
- Help them connect
- Follow up
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat
Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.