Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently met with agriculture and healthcare industry leaders for a roundtable discussion on the new AgriStress Helpline and other state services and resources available to Pennsylvania farm families seeking mental health support, according to a state Department of Agriculture release.
“Our farmers and agricultural community serve Pennsylvanians every day by providing the food and products we rely on, and we must be there to support them in times of need,” said Redding. “The department is proud to partner with the AgriSafe Network, stakeholders and industry leaders to connect farmers to mental health resources and healthcare professionals.”
The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak to a healthcare professional.
The department launched the AgriStress Helpline in February. The helpline in Pennsylvania is supported by a $ 500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network awarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to carry out programming to address farmer stress and suicide, according to the release .
In addition to the department’s partnership with AgriSafe to launch the hotline, the grant dollars support mental health resources available through the Center for Dairy Excellence, marketing to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma, and regional Collaboration with the National Young Farmers Coalition.
“The grant through the PA Dept. of Agriculture and the USDA Farmer Rancher Network Assistance Program has been instrumental in bringing the entire PA agriculture industry together to normalize the conversation around mental health, ”said Melissa Anderson, program and operations manager at the Center for Dairy Excellence. “Addressing mental health isn’t easy and being vulnerable and open isn’t easy either. These are tough conversations to have, but they are incredibly valuable to help the dairy industry normalize the discussion around mental health and hopefully remove some of the stigma and embarrassment so many people feel. ”
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farm or business problems and the fear of losing the farm are top contributors to farmers’ mental health, according to the release. Cost, embarrassment and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition.
“Mental health providers such as Agristress, UPMC, and Behavioral Health Services of Somerset and Bedford Counties and numerous mental health hotlines offer much needed services for our community,” said Dennis Hutchison, president of the Somerset County Farm Bureau. “As members of the Ag community we have the responsibility to reach out and ask how you are doing with stress and your mental health. it can be a difficult question to ask, but it may save a life. ”
The AgriSafe Network is a non-profit organization that strives to reduce health disparities in agricultural communities. AgriSafe supports a network of trained agricultural health and safety professionals to provide preventive services for farm families. The AgriStress Response Network seeks to eliminate the stigma around accessing support for mental health including stress, depression, anxiety and suicide.
Anyone who works in Pennsylvania agriculture and wants to talk to someone is encouraged to contact the AgriStress Helpline by calling 833-897-AGRI (2474).
For more information about the AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov and click on the Mental Wellness icon.