Agriculture producers and community members will learn more about farm stress and mental health during a webinar with Bayhealth Medical Center and the Delaware Farm Bureau at the end of May.
The program, scheduled for Tuesday, May 30 at 8 p.m., is free to participants and open to the public, according to DEFB Marketing Coordinator Mikayla Paul.
“We hope a lot of people, not just our farmers, take advantage of this session. It’s free to listen and know that you’re not alone. We often say, ‘It’s okay to not be okay,’ but we hope people actually take that to heart and know that we’re here with resources if or when they are needed,” Paul said.
Rochelle Balan, wellness and safety specialist at Bayhealth Medical Center, presented a similar workshop at the DEFB’s annual Delaware Ag Safety Conference in March which was well received by attendees and will be leading this upcoming webinar, as well.
During the safety conference, Balan discussed stressors, suicide rates in the agricultural field, how to identify stress or mental health concerns, coping mechanisms, how to help a friend or loved one and services or resources that are available to community members.
“We know there’s a lot of fatalities in farming. Casualties, accidents, miscellaneous things,” Balan emphasized to attendees. “We know that it’s dangerous and we know that there are unexpected things that happen in our brains in regards to mental health. For farmers, in 2016, there was a study that showed that [the occupational classification of] agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting was one of the highest rates of people who died by suicide.”
According to data presented by Balan, 36.1 per 100,000 men in an agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting profession who died in 2016 died by suicide. Other industries with similarly high rates included mining, construction, other services (such as automotive repair), and transportation and warehousing.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be a farmer, but it is difficult. There’s a lot of things that could happen when you don’t ask for help. Help doesn’t always have to be professional,” Balan said. “You work long hours. You work in a very stressful environment, whether it’s financial or family related, right? We have unexpected events that happen and so often we don’t ask for help.”
However, Balan added, help is available when someone is ready.
The free webinar on May 30 will include much of the same information, but now with a wider audience. Resources will also be explored during the webinar. Through the help of the Strategic Action Fund Grant made available by the American Farm Bureau Federation, resources and webinar registration is now available online for Delaware farmers and community members at www.defb.org/resources/health/. AFBF also has its own list of resources which can be found at www.fb.org/initiative/farm-state-of-mind.