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Mental Health Monday: Farmers facing a crisis

KIFI | Kailey Galaviz

SHELLEY, Idaho (KIFI) – Imagine going to work unable to control the environment and outcome despite your best efforts. Well, it's something farmers deal with every single day.

Feeding America has seemingly never been so rewarding, yet challenging. Most farmers are in a crisis right now; not so much worried about their crops, but their mental health. 

Farmer suicide rates are two to five times higher than the national average, as stated by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and it's not getting any easier.

One suspected reason is farmers bury their feelings or ignore them.

Joel Benson with the Idaho farm Bureau says, "I think that there has been some stigma in the past and probably some that still exists in agriculture of people who just say, 'Oh, I watched my parents or grandparents tough it out.'"

With rising costs, changing climate, and sometimes unpredictable equipment, the outcome is always uncontrollable, which can take a toll.

There is support for farmers, but it can be hard to find. "65% of rural america doesn't have a psychiatrist in there in their small town," Benson says.

So it often takes community support and talking about the difficulties this profession can pose to keep some struggling farmers motivated. Benson says, "I think it's just adding the discussion of mental health to those existing social networks that are already special in those rural areas of our state."

Remember always thank a farmer because... "Food doesn't come from the store," Shelley Farmer Bryan Searle says.

There is now crisis support for agriculture communities in Wyoming called the AgriStress Helpline. If you or someone you know is struggling, call or text 833-897-2474.

You can also call the national hotline at 988 or visit the emergency room when in a crisis.

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Kailey Galaviz

Kailey is a morning anchor and reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3


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