Spring is prized for the promise of new and fresh starts. For those in agriculture, the season represents the beginning of a new growing season. There’s excitement in the potential for a plentiful year but experience cautions growers to be realistic about the challenges that likely lie ahead. Farmers, farm workers and their families undoubtedly feel a range of emotions.

May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. Since 1949, mental health professionals have taken time every May to promote mental health education and support with the intent to decrease the stigma associated with seeking mental health help.

This month, the Thumb Community Health Partnership is targeting their outreach to the agriculture community who experience an acute amount of stress this time of year. The group cites a recent survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation that indicates farmers and farm workers see the importance in reducing stigma around mental health in the agriculture community but believe that barriers to receive such treatment continue to increase, especially in light of the pandemic.

The partnership encourages those in the ag industry to access resources through mantherapy.org. There they can find tips on how to improve their mood and relieve stress and get access to counseling and therapy.

For some years now, Michigan State University Extension has also offered programming for managing farm stress. As they note, taking care of crops and animals can be intensive work, making it easy to overlook one’s own health and wellness. The stress of the job can become especially high when outside factors come into play, like the rise and fall of commodity prices and natural disasters or extreme weather events.

MSU Extension also offers a wealth of online resources including free courses, a text messaging program, farm financial insight and access to teletherapy professionals. It can all be found at canr.msu.edu/managing_farm_stress.

The importance of the work that farmers and farm workers perform is hard to overstate. It’s critical that they receive the help they need to navigate particularly stressful times so, to that end, we’re grateful to see more being done to help them.