BETHANY FUNKHOUSER: Farming is a stressful job; the stigma persists | Local News

We are right in the middle of May, which also happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month. Agriculture is one of the most stressful occupations in the United States, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension (Shutske, John). You may be wondering why.

According to the American Psychological Association, farmers face countless unique stressors, ranging from financial stressors including loan rates, market price fluctuations and trade policies, to production, including diseases, insects and weather (American Psychological Association). All of these risks are where farmers are able to develop a risk management plan, but they have no control over the end result, which makes farming extremely stressful.

One of the drivers of mental health problems in agriculture is the stigma associated with seeking help or treatment. According to a survey of 2,000 rural adults by the American Farm Bureau Federation, stigma has decreased but remains a factor (American Farm Bureau Federation, Morning Consult). Some key survey findings include stigma and availability being less of a barrier compared to previous years. About 51% still believe that help-seeking stigma is a barrier. Although this is a high percentage, it has decreased by 11% compared to previous years. The survey also found that rural adults said they saw an increase in willingness to seek help for mental health issues and stress. Thirty-five percent said they saw an increase on social media and 26% said they saw more information from government agencies (American Farm Bureau Federation, Morning Consult). Which brings us to the next point, where you can seek help as a farmer in South Carolina: SC AgriWellness.

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The Clemson University Cooperative Extension agribusiness team, the South Carolina Farm Bureau and others helped develop and institute the SC AgriWellness program. The program provides free advisory services to farmers and farm families. The SC Agriwellness program brings mental health services to the farmer. SC AgriWellness is administered by First Sun EAP and provides free advisory services to South Carolina farmers and their families. Providing access to a wealth of professional services, SC AgriWellness is a resource to support farmers and those in the South Carolina agricultural industry as they navigate the many issues that contribute to the overwhelming stress affecting well -Being South Carolina Farmers and Farm Families (SC Farm Bureau)”. SC Agriwellness provides a minimum of three free advisory services for many issues, including:

They also provide unlimited life management services for:

To use any of these services, simply call 800-968-8143 and say you are calling under the SC Agriwellness program.

SC AgriWellness also has a Wellness Center which contains over 20,000 resources on topics such as emotional well-being, finances, health, relationships, legal and personal growth and offers unlimited access. These resources are available at www.firstsuneap-agriwellness.com.

For more information on farm stress and mental health, you can visit the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Agribusiness site at http://www.clemson.edu/farmstress

Mental health and stress are problems for many people, whether they stem from your personal life or your professional life. Many face these issues, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help. Reaching out to someone is the first step to getting help. If you are looking for help but are not a farmer or a member of a farming family, you can always go to the National Institute of Mental Health website for resources, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help or call

Michael A. Bynum