You’ve heard this a lot, but it’s important that we keep saying it:
Farm stress is real. Let’s talk about it.
Rural Colorado has been working through stress for quite some time. Not only has the pandemic brought on a new kind of stress: supply chain pressures, public health guidelines, keeping our family and employees healthy, spouses may be out of work…oh and by the way, all the other regular farm stress like weather, drought and high input costs and low returns still exists. Farmers and ranchers face an incredible amount of pressure, often not understood by others who aren’t in the industry or who live in the city.
This doesn’t even include the stress that has come from suffering loss or the lack of interaction with our loved ones. It’s been over a year since emergency declarations began across the state, affecting our daily lives and life became difficult and different for many of us. We know that COVID -19 is impacting farmer’s health, in fact more than half say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago, according to a new American Farm Bureau poll. When we look back on the year and talk about rural mental health, the bright light is that CFB and those affected by stress have continued to talk about it and unique pressure and burden that farmers and ranchers face.
We know that farmers and ranchers struggle to ask for help.
“You slug through it. You power through it,” said CFB member Laura Negley in a recent panel discussion with 9News.
It’s also important to know, you are not alone.
“You need to have the community to help you heal. You need to have their support,” Laura said, especially when traditional services aren’t always available in rural areas.
You can watch Laura and 9News’ full panel on mental health below:
Jacob Walters, a CFB member living in Kremmling, helped tell the story of his father’s struggles and his family’s story after his loss:
Jacob has since led the charge in his local community. Late last year, he held three separate QPR Gatekeeper workshops in Kremmling, Granby and Winter Park. The acronym “QPR” stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, as these are the three key steps an individual should take when approached by someone who is contemplating suicide.
The events were hosted in collaboration with Colorado State University (CSU) Extension and were open to the public. “The QPR program provides relevant, important training in emergency mental health intervention,” says Olivia Clark, CSU Extension director and agent for Grand County. “Suicide rates are on the rise and if we provide the tools for someone to help in individual in crisis, we’ve made a difference.”
Thankfully, more and more we’re continuing to talk about the importance of mental health. Brave people like Laura and Jacob are sharing their stories and talking about these issues in hopes that others are inspired to find the help they need. It’s organizations like CFB and the Colorado Department of Agriculture that are creating and sharing mental health resources to help folks get the help they need. The American Farm Bureau Federation also offers rural resilience training to help farmers, their families and neighbors identify and cope with stress.
Times are tough. For many in agriculture, they’ve been tough for a while. As members of our rural communities we need to be on the lookout for our family, our friends and our neighbors. Be there for one another. If there is anything that we do best, it’s being there for others in trouble.
But for those who are struggling, please know: You are not alone.
If you or someone you love is struggling, please know that there is help. Colorado Crisis Services is here to help you get through this. To talk to someone, call:
1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255