You are here

Agriculture Producers & Mental Health Challenges, Part 2

Thursday, July 4, 2019 - 7:00am

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today, we're continuing our discussion about agriculture producers and mental health challenges. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Dr. David Buys, Mississippi State University Extension state health specialist, and Dr. Amanda Stone, MSU Extension dairy specialist.

Dr. Buys, talk to me a little bit about some of the challenges that are a little bit unique to farmers, as far as the mental health problems and issues that they may face.

David Buys: Right. We've already talked about the isolation that they face, in terms of access to mental healthcare services, but when we look at their occupational risk and hazards, the likelihood of having an injury and being exposed to potentially addictive substances like opioids is challenging. You couple that with the stress and the distress that farmers face every year from, "Is my crop going to make? What's the weather going to do? Am I going to be able to turn a profit this year?" That recurring stress is really, really challenging for them, and you couple that with a higher likelihood of exposure to an addictive medicine, that puts them in a unique place compared to the rest of the country.

Amy Myers: Dr. Buys, MSU Extension is rolling out a Mental Health First Aid training. Tell me about this training. I want to be sure our listeners know all about it.

David Buys: Yeah. MHFA, Mental Health First Aid, is a training designed to equip lay folks just like you and me to recognize signs of mental health problems and be able to connect people to the appropriate level of help. It's an eight-hour training. It includes training about common mental health problems like depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance use disorders, and other things.

What I like best about the training is that it doesn't just tell us about the problems. It tells us about what we can do about it, and we have this ... We call it the ALGEE action plan, and that's A-L-G-E-E. We're taught to assess for risk of suicide or harm, to listen non-judgmentally, to give reassurance and information, to encourage appropriate professional help, and to encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Amanda Stone: Yeah. And I'll just add, also, that some things that really touched me were the quotes throughout Mental Health First Aid reminding us, if we see something, say something and do something. It's very important. And if something is affecting someone's ability to live, laugh, love, or earn, Mental Health First Aid can help, and that it's about hope. There is hope for recovery, and many people go on to live very successful lives through this. Mental Health First Aid equips us to be connectors, not correctors, so it's about connection, not correction.

Amy Myers: Okay. You say that we have Extension agents trained, but what about other folks out there? Can they be trained, also?

David Buys: That's a great question, Amy. We'd love to train others in Mental Health First Aid. For listeners who are interested, I'd encourage them to reach out. They can reach out directly to me at david.buys@msstate.edu, or give me a buzz. I'll give you my cell phone. It's (662) 769-9830. Again, (662) 769-9830. I'd be happy to work with any listeners out there who want to line up a training for us. In fact, our instructors are required to do at least three trainings a year to keep our skills active, so it'd be doing us a favor to give us an opportunity to get out there and do more trainings for people across the state. Please, listeners, reach out if this is something you're interested in, and we can talk about if it is a good fit for you.

Amy Myers: Amanda, is there anything you want to say about resources that we can refer to?

Amanda Stone: Sure. I encourage anyone who is dealing with feelings like this or needs help of any sort to please reach out. SAMHSA has a national helpline that could be useful. SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and that number is 1-800-662-HELP, help, or 4357. And then, the National Suicide Hotline is 800-273-TALK, or 8255.

Amy Myers: Okay. Folks can also just Google Mississippi State University Extension Mental Health First Aid training. Today, we've been speaking with Dr. David Buys, Mississippi State University Extension state health specialist, and Dr. Amanda Stone, MSU Extension dairy specialist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

Select Your County Office

Follow Farm and Family