AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) – Health care professionals have noticed that stress on a farm does not take a vacation. The national non-profit organization Agri-Safe wanted to adapt a hotline for specific mental health triggers faced by farmers.
“A lot of people work where they live, you can’t go home from the office that they don’t get to decompress. Farmers and ranchers can look outside and see the work that needs to be done.” Agri-Safe Health communications officer Laura Siegel said.
The Agri-Stress Helpline offers Virginia farmers a source of emotional support that is confidential and unrestricted.
Virginia Farm Bureau has 133,000 families they serve, and Safety Advisory Committee Chair Dana Fisher says the helpline is a tremendous resource for anxiety issues.
“Anxiety is constant and affects them in many ways. If getting that crop done or getting livestock in is a concern, that’s a big deal. If there’s a concern about bills being paid, that’s a big issue,” Fisher said.
The helpline is available whether there is a crisis or not.
“Help is out there, you just have to look to ask. I know, a lot of times with stress and anxiety it feels like we’re very alone, but we don’t have to be.”
The helpline is available in 160 languages every day. Farmers can call or text 833-897-2474 to speak directly with a healthcare professional.
Farm Bureau will also promote the helpline in late November at its annual convention that attracts more than 500 farmers and other industry professionals. Additionally, Farm Bureau is sponsoring a series of workshops to help people who interact with farmers regularly recognize signs of stress and mental health problems (coops, farm supply companies, Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and others) regionally through March 2023.
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