Inside INdiana Business

Addressing stress and mental health among Indiana farmers

Harvest season is a stressful time for farmers. (photo courtesy: USDA/Lance Cheung)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Fall harvest is a stressful time for many farmers as they deal with the uncertainty of weather, equipment breakdowns and market fluctuations. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help Indiana farmers who face stress and mental health challenges. ISDA is partnering with the Indiana Rural Health Association and Purdue Extension to reduce mental health stigma and connect individuals with support.

The organizations will be holding workshops across the state to help people who live and work in agriculture to become more comfortable with mental health care options.

“Farming is one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs there is,” said Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “Each person faces stressors in their job and in their life, and rural communities are no different. I am hopeful this project will highlight resources for their stress and any mental difficulties they may face.”

As part of the campaign, Purdue Extension will survey and analyze the mental health call center landscape and capacity in Indiana. Extension will use the information to develop a specialized training module for call center workers to better understand the challenges for farmers, farm families and agribusinesses.

“COVID, the breakdown of agricultural supply chains, price volatility and variable weather are just a few issues that have intensified the need for stronger supports for our farmers and agribusiness colleagues in times of stress,” said Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension.

The partners say the initiative will increase awareness of existing mental health resources, build knowledge on farming and help Hoosiers reduce stigma and better-recognize mental health needs.

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