HARRISBURG – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Senator Elder Vogel, Chair of Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee announced Friday the opening of the AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania, which is a free service available to Pennsylvania farmers and their families seeking mental health support.
The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak to a healthcare professional.
“The agricultural community faces unique challenges. Farmers often work alone, live where they work and encounter pressures of markets, weather, business transitions and legacy,” Secretary Redding said. “Stressors can weigh heavily on individuals and families but know that you are not alone. The AgriStress HelpLine is a tool to connect farmers to mental health resources and healthcare professionals, and it emphasizes it is OK to ask for help.”
The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is supported by National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grant dollars awarded to the PA Department of Agriculture to carry out programs to address farmer stress and suicide. In addition to the Department’s partnership with AgriSafe, these dollars support mental health resources available through the Center for Dairy Excellence, marketing to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma, and regional collaboration with the National Young Farmers Coalition.
“While farmers are traditionally less likely to seek professional help, it is vital that we connect those in the agricultural community with the necessary resources for them to obtain the help they need when dealing with a mental health issue,” Senator Vogel said. “The opening of the AgriStress HelpLine is a major step forward as we seek to provide access to care to a vital population that so often will bear their burdens in silence.”
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farm or business problems and the fear of losing the farm are top contributors to farmers’ mental health. Cost, embarrassment, and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition.
“There can be a stigma around seeking help for mental health issues and we need to make farmers aware of all of the tools available to them,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “This helpline will provide another resource for farmers to reach out to trained professionals and get the assistance they need.”
The AgriSafe Network is a non-profit organization that strives to reduce health disparities in agricultural communities. AgriSafe supports a network of trained agricultural health and safety professionals to provide preventative services for farm families. The AgriStress Response Network seeks to eliminate the stigma around accessing support for mental health including stress, depression, anxiety and suicide.
For more information about the AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov.