Resources Available to Farmers for Stress Management and Mental Health in Southwest Virginia

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) – Farmers are often said to be the backbone of the nation, which is an expectation that carries enormous weight.

“We like to say it’s over 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They’re always on call. The general public sees them as this strong character,” described Cynthia Martel of Virginia Cooperative Extension in Franklin County. “It’s always that strong demeanor and doesn’t show a lot of their emotions. People don’t realize that farmers too, like everyone else, have things going on in their lives and don’t always show them like everyone else.

From pesticides to animal feed, current inflation can strain an already invigorating spine.

“Everything increases in cost,” she explains. “Yes, it costs us more to have gas, but it costs them more to put fuel in their equipment, to feed their animals, to run anything on their farm. People don’t understand, if they can’t buy this stuff, they can’t feed us.

Or milk to drink. Martel says that 10 years ago when she started working in Franklin County, there were about 70 dairy farms. Now there are 35.

“For the past five years, milk prices have been horrible. If they don’t get paid enough for their milk and everything else goes up, then they don’t make money.

That’s why, says Martel, it’s important that these farmers know they can get help when they need it.

She says Piedmont Community Services in Franklin County is full of resources, as well as her own organization.

“We offer what is called an on-farm stress program. We go in and talk to farmers and anyone working in the farming community. It also teaches the farmer how to deal with stress, as well as those who work with farmers to see the signs and symptoms of stress and how to help them. Last year I took Mental Health First Aid training, so I could go out and teach about mental health, signs and symptoms and how we work to break down the stigmas behind mental challenges and mental illness .

Martel says some of these resources are free and covered by grants.

“There are a number of different routes you can take; It’s just a matter of finding one that you feel comfortable doing.

For more information on stress on the farm resources, contact Cynthia Martel at [email protected]

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