"When rain this past spring kept farmers from planting, among the comments that circulated on Facebook was one offering a phone number for a suicide hotline.
Now, perhaps more than ever, farmers might need help with how to keep their businesses afloat, how to find jobs off the farm, how to find clinicians to help deal with mounting frustration or despair that might come with running a business farming the land.
Out of this tremendous need, staff with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) hope to offer assistance through their newly formed Rural and Farm Stress Task Force. The task force is made up of people who can help connect farmers and their families with specialists either within Ohio State University Extension or within the community.
CFAES will be collaborating with Ohio State’s College of Social Work to know how to best respond to individuals who might be in need of emotional support, including knowing which mental health providers those individuals can seek out, regardless of where they live in the state.
Many farms will be able to weather the financial storm, but some growers are seeking work off the farm or additional sources of income from their farm. The task force and all OSU Extension staff can point farmers toward resources to assist their businesses or to find new work or a counselor. In providing this help, the hope is to reassure and empower farmers.
“Farmers are so resilient, or they wouldn’t be doing the job they’re doing,” said Dee Jepsen, co-chair of the task force and state safety leader for OSU Extension.
For decades, farmers have dealt with weather challenges as well as shifts in markets and prices, and they have persevered. Sometimes with that strong will to persevere comes a resistance to seek help," Jepsen said."
This is an abridged version of work by Alayna DeMartini, posted August 14, 2019.