May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) at the University of Iowa has joined a national effort to start a discussion about mental health needs among agricultural communities and make resources available for those who need help.
Farmers’ suicide rates are double the rate of the general population, said Dr. Jenna Gibbs, GPCAH coordinator, and individuals living in rural communities have a difficult time seeking help.
“We’re looking more to promote awareness to overcome stigma so that when people get stressed out, they’re not afraid to talk about it,” Dr. Gibbs said. “And we hope … that our viewers will be more likely to seek help early in the game.”
Iowa is one of eleven federally-funded Agricultural Safety and Health Centers participating in the 2019 Mental Health Awareness month, bringing the “Break the Stigma” campaign to rural and agricultural communities across the country.
Resources are available for the Midwestern farmer and begin with crisis hotline phone numbers — but they don’t stop there. Information on ways to identify stress in yourself, and in others, are discussed through videos, stories, and posters, with the hope of raising awareness about handling stress on the farm and building support networks.
“We are hoping to build a safe space for farmers and rural residents to open up about their stresses and seek support for mental health if necessary,” says Dr. Renée Anthony, GPCAH director.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on May 24