Don’t wait for a crisis before paying attention to mental health


Don’t wait for a crisis before paying attention to mental health

Ag advocates say more open conversations on mental health are changing the culture in the industry, and it’s needed with depression affecting one in five farmers.

Jason Meadows is a Missouri cow/calf producer and host of the Ag State of Mind podcast which works to break stigmas on mental health in agriculture.  He says many in the ag community are unwilling to admit they’re struggling because it’s viewed as a weakness.

“The opposite is actually true, when we do open up and are able to admit that we have problems and admit that we do have faults, we can come together and bond over that.”

Ag mental health specialist and Illinois farm wife Adrienne DeSutter recommends finding friends off the farm to share with because as she says, life does exist beyond farming.

“Mental health means more than suicide, it means more than depression, it means more than anxiety.  We all have mental health and we have to make sure that we’re taking care of it before we get to that crisis.”

Meadows says the uncertainty in the ag economy and with COVID-19 is creating even more stress for farmers who already have stressful professions.  He uses culling of tens of thousands of pigs because of a lack of processing during the pandemic as an example.

“You raise an animal that’s supposed to go and feed and provide all kinds of material for basic human living, and then that life is just wasted—that’s a really stressful situation.”

They both say giving yourself grace and redefining your goals and values can help shed light on what’s important during difficult times.

Meadows and DeSutter were featured speakers during the recent Farm Progress Virtual event.