Mental Health Awareness Month in the Virginia Agricultural Community


Photo courtesy of Eric Bendfeldt

May 2022 marks the 73rd National Mental Health Awareness Month. Established in 1949, National Mental Health Month brings attention to the importance of mental wellness throughout the country and celebrates recovery and progress for people living with mental illnesses.


We know farming is a challenging business and livelihood. Between everyday decisions, fragile supply chains, changing markets, and extreme weather, farmers face incredible difficulties. Furthermore, the global pandemic negatively impacted the mental wellness of at least 65 percent of farmers in 2020, according to the American Farm Bureau. Studies have shown farmers deal with depression, anxiety, intense stress, and other mental health challenges.


We want you to know you are not alone in these challenges.


Farmers across Virginia are supporting one another through sharing knowledge, resources, and partnerships. We urge you not to face difficult times alone, but reach out to others. Connecting with people who share your experiences and relate to your concerns can strengthen our individual and community wellness.


The Farmer Stress Task Force, launched by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) in 2019, connects agricultural community members to mental health resources and works to lower the stigma associated with seeking such services.


Here in the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, we strive to support not just soil health, but farmers' health as well. We help organize mentoring programs and meaningful resources across the Commonwealth. We know there are numerous offices and initials in this field of work, and we are working to map them out in an accessible way.


Below are organizations, groups, and coalitions who provide mental wellness services and would be glad to talk with you.

Resources


Knowing When to Get Help and How to Manage Stress, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services


Farm State of Mind Resource Directory, American Farm Bureau Foundation


Farm Stress and Wellness Resources, Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition


Rural Resilience Online Course ,Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation, and National Farmers Union


Farm Safety, Health, & Wellness Resources, AgrAbility Virginia


Mentorship and Networking Groups


Virginia Farmer Mentor Network, Virginia Soil Health Coalition


Virginia SARE, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education


Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program, Virginia Cooperative Extension


If you'd like to learn more about how to join the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, please reach out to our Coalition Coordinator, Mary Sketch, at msketch2@vt.edu or join us at our quarterly meeting coming up on June 16. Sign up for our monthly newsletters or email msketch2@vt.edu to receive our meeting information.


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