This week I covered the first-ever Rural Mental Health Symposium sponsored by AgrIInstitute.

A room full of 100 farmers and ag professionals gathered to talk about some pretty hard stuff — including suicide, mental illness, opioid abuse and other major challenges facing rural America.

There were packages of tissues at every table, and it was necessary. As farmers shared their stories of hardships and mental health professionals shared ways to help those who are suffering, many tears were shed.

Events like these are vital to the ag community. It’s hard to talk about suicide. But did you know farmers are more likely to commit suicide than veterans?

My takeaway from the event was that it’s critically important to be there for your loved ones. Look for signs of distress. Help them find resources. And, when you yourself are struggling, seek help.

It’s up to us to remove the mental health stigma from our society.

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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