May is recognized as Mental Health Month

by | May 11, 2021

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office points to an increase in the number of people showing signs of anxiety or depression from 2019 to 2020; from 11% to 38%. No doubt COVID-19 has added extra stress to everyday life, but resources are available to help, including an online directory for producers created by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Today’s Topic
  • We have talked before about the stresses of farming, especially in challenging times of loss and uncertainty, but since May is recognized as Mental Health Month, I thought it would be a good topic to revisit.
  • Plus, the American Farm Bureau Federation has recently launched an online directory for producers who may be experiencing stress and mental health challenges.
  • They hope to bring awareness to the resources that are available to help.
  • While farmers and agricultural operations have kept working during the pandemic, COVID-19 has challenged us all. And a recent report released by the Government Accountability Office noted that the number of people showing signs of anxiety and depression rose from 11% in 2019 to 38% in 2020. Those numbers show us a side of the pandemic that is often not talked about.
  • Like a lot of people, I draw strength from my family and my work family. Social distancing has forced us to limit our interactions with those outside our immediate circle, which can add to a sense of isolation.
  • We have adapted with virtual meetings, but they are not the same as sitting across from one another. As more and more people get vaccinated, I am looking forward to having more meetings in person.
  • If you go to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s directory, you can look for resources by state. Under North Carolina, you will find information on the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, which we have talked about before.
  • They are a valuable resource for North Carolina’s agricultural community, from resources for dealing with stress and anxiety, fit testing for respirators and other health and safety equipment, to more recently working with farmers and farmworkers on on-farm COVID protocols and best practices, testing and vaccinations.
  • The Agromedicine Institute works with a network of community advocates and resources on farm-related health issues.
  • In addition to the resources, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s page also offered tips for helping others and signs to watch for. There is also a link to a CDC quiz on mental health, a link to information on managing farm stress from Michigan State University Extension, and podcasts, videos and information on farm and ranch stress from North Dakota State University.
  • Farm communities tend to watch out for one another, especially if someone is going through a difficult time.
  • Some signs to watch for include a change in routines of social activities, a decline in the care of domestic animals, decline in the appearance of a farmstead, increase in illness or other chronic conditions, increase in farm accidents or a decreased interest in activities or events.
  • If you suspect someone is experiencing emotional pain, be sure to check in with them. Other suggestions include ask, be there for them, stay connected, keep them safe and help them connect.
  • We all have the power within us, to be there for someone else in a time of need, just as others have been there for us when we have needed an extra hand.
  • These are stressful times, I encourage you all to look out for one another.
  • We have posted links to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s mental health directory and to the N.C. Agromedicine Institute on our COVID-19 webpage. You can find those links at