November 27, 2022

Rural Issues: Dial new 988 hotline for mental health help

With Halloween and the midterm election in the rearview, I’m ready for the holiday season to begin!

There is much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving. I love the holiday season first and foremost because Christmas celebrates the birth of my Savior.

I also love Christmas music and the spirit of giving that is inspired in many. The scents, sounds and tastes of Christmas are engrained in most of us as children and represent fond memories that we carry with us throughout a lifetime.

Unfortunately, for many of our friends, neighbors and family members, the holiday season is a time of sadness instead of gladness.

I know people who become melancholy and others who are overwhelmed with anxiety during this most wonderful time of the year.

I’d guess there are very few of us who haven’t been a bit stressed with the demands — mostly self-inflicted — on our time and bank account, but many others experience full-blown depression throughout the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks.

Farmers, compared to men and women in other occupations, are among those most likely to die by suicide.

A 2020 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought to light what many in agriculture had known for some time. The same study found that overall suicide rates have increased by more than 40% in less than 20 years.

Last year, American Farm Bureau Federation conducted a survey in which they asked farmers about their mental health and stigma associated with it.

According to the survey, the four biggest stressors that impact farmers’ mental health are financial issues, fear of losing the farm, uncertain future and the state of the farm economy.

The survey states that 60% of farmers were experiencing more mental health issues in 2021 than the year before. The survey also says that more farmers are becoming aware of the mental health resources available to them and that farmers are utilizing these resources more often.

There is still much to be done when it comes to making sure that farmers are able — and willing — to seek mental health resources. Denying or failing to realize you are struggling with a mental health issue is not uncommon.

If you or someone you know suffers from persistent sadness or anxiety, is plagued by physical complaints, excessive irritability, fatigue or loss of energy, or lacks interest in doing things they once enjoyed, professional help could be needed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 9% of Americans suffer from some form of depression.

988 is the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the Lifeline network.

These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support and connect them to resources is necessary.

988 — spread the word!

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.