Content provided by Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau Federation News Reporter and American Farm Bureau Federation
April is Stress Awareness Month, and it’s important is to seek help when you reach your stress limit. For example, I have a friend who at one time was holding on to massive anger and frustration over a situation that developed in his life. It was tearing him up emotionally and affecting his ability to function at home and at work. This went on for some time, until he finally broke down and shared all this with his mother. His mom, a bona fide fountain of wisdom, told him, “Acid only eats the container it is in.”
For the past couple of years, I’ve sought ways to work mental health themes into Georgia Farm Bureau's agricultural content, prompted in part by news of alarming numbers of farmer suicides. I’ve talked to doctors, social workers, family survivors of people who committed suicide, like-minded lay persons and others in an effort to hammer home the message that help is necessary and available. I hope it has helped someone.
. While my occupational mission is to work for the benefit of farmers, and the content I’ve produced has been framed by that mission, mental health challenges are by no means limited to agriculture. I suspect that by now, we are all aware of the challenges that already existed for people in all walks of life were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey from the American Farm Bureau found that more than half of rural adults and farmers/farmworkers say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Two in three farmers/farmworkers say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health, and two in three have experienced feeling nervous, anxious or on edge during the pandemic.
In the course of gathering information for this content, several themes have consistently emerged. The one that sticks in my mind is the value of talking about your problems and feelings. Get it out. Because there’s more room on the outside than on the inside, and as my friend’s wise mom said, acid only eats the container it is in.
Mine is not a clinical analysis. I have no training or licensure regarding mental health issues. But here’s what I’ve come to believe: If you feel overwhelmed by your problems, they are not going to spontaneously go away. You have to talk about them, and however alone you may be, just know that others are struggling with the same or similar problems.
Improving your mental health may involve other steps, but my view is that the first one is to talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend, a pastor or a professional counselor, find someone to talk to, and get it out. If you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to, there are lots of resources available from a variety of government agencies and other organizations. The one I’ve been promoting, because it’s local to Georgia, is the Georgia Crisis and Access line. The phone number is 1-800-715-4225. If you need help, or know someone who does, please call.
Maybe you are not the one that is struggling with a mental health crisis. Maybe it’s someone you are close to. Here are some warning signs you may recognize if your loved ones, neighbors or someone else you care about is experiencing some mental health challenges. Things like changes in routine, social activities, decline in appearance of the farm or the care of domestic animals, increase in farm accidents, increase in illnesses or other chronic conditions, or decreased interest in activities or events may all be signs of someone suffering from a mental health challenge.
If you think someone you know is going through something there are ways you can reach out them, even if it means you may have to step out of your comfort zone. Try reminding them of something they’ve said about what’s concerning them and show
your interest. Acknowledge what they’re going through, share something you’ve seen change. Remember if you are concerned, don’t wait for them to ask for help. Instead offer to help connect them to some resources that re available
for support. Remember to show genuine care, empathy and listen. Visit the Farm State of Mind website for more information.