Those in the agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing (AgFF) industries face increasingly high levels of stress daily brought on by demanding workloads, long hours, weather changes, price increases, market fluctuations, trade agreements, labor shortages, isolation, lack of resources…the list goes on.
Chronic stress impacts one’s ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. Stress hormones negatively impact our brain’s capability to evaluate alternative options and communicate appropriately with family, friends, and employees. Stress ultimately affects our ability to work safely and can lead to chronic health conditions.
When we are in a state of constant or chronic stress, we feel a lack of control. This feeling, if left untreated, can lead to a worsened mental state, an increase in workplace injuries, and potentially thoughts of suicide. The CDC has recently reported that those in the AgFF sector experience higher rates of suicide than the general population. 1
Simply put, essential workers need essential mental health resources. Yet, when resources are made available, some rural residents do not access them due to barriers like cost, location, and stigma.
Not only is it crucial for the AgFF community to have resources at their disposal during a crisis but to also know what stress looks like in themselves and others. According to a recent poll by the American Farm Bureau Federation, “farmers/farmworkers were not confident that they would be able to spot the warning signs of [stress or] a mental health condition.” 2
The SW Ag Center has partnered with the AgriSafe Network and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to address the need for stress assistance within the AgFF community.
This helpline for Texans is now available 24/7. It is staffed by credentialed professionals trained to respond appropriately to the AgFF community through a program developed by experts in mental health, agriculture production, mediation, and financial analysis.
At this time, the helpline is only for Texans but mental health resources are available for anyone on the SW Ag Center webpage.
Resources are now available on the SW Ag Center webpage. Additional resources include the Seasons Change | You Remain social media toolkit, brochures, and trainings for county extension and TDA agents.