Springtime is a busy season for farmers. But this year’s wet weather has dampened their efforts. Their planting window has passed or been cut dramatically. For many farmers, they’ll be relying on hope for a decent yield. Health professionals recognize the pressure this is putting on farmers. Carle hospital will be hosting a mental health first aid class in July and here to talk with us about it is farm safety expert Amy Rademaker, Carle’s Rural Health and Farm Safety program coordinator.
First of Amy, what are the greatest risks this time of the year?
· Large equipment such as a planters, sprayers and field cultivation equipment
· Lack of sleep
With all of the rain in the Midwest this spring, we know farmers are experiencing some added stresses? Are they working long hours trying to get seeds planted? What’s the potential for danger there?
· Remember not to put in more hours than you should.
· Get rest. Get a minimum of 7 hours. Fatigue can decrease response time and affect safety.
· Stay engaged and alert. Take breaks.
Many farmers are fearful their crop will be affected or wiped out entirely this year. What can we do support them during a challenging season?
· Family or friends should watch for signs of stress and behavioral changes
· Remind family of the importance of rest
· Be a good listener and support in any way you can
Are there any new trends in safety?
· Sadly, yes, an alarming trend in mental health can be tied to financial strains.
o A bushel of wheat right now at Anderson Grain is $5. The cost of that bushel is $3.57 so you have $1.68 return. That bushel will make around 70 loaves of bread. The farmer will likely pay more for one loaf than he will get from producing one bushel.
o Issues with trade wars of course are effecting the market
· Farming has one of the highest occupational suicide rates
· Farmers facing more stress
· Financial and weather concerns
· Lack of access to mental health care
Carle is hosting a Mental Health First Aid course; can you tell me about those and how it can help us better support our friends and neighbors?
· First we need to focus on breaking down the stigma.
· This is an illness just as strep throat, the flu, etc.
· Encourage open communication.
· Mental Health First Aid is a national program that Carle is happy to support to help people better understand and identify mental health issue.
· Visit carle.org/mhfa to find a class for anyone.
· If you are looking for a class focused more on agriculture, Carle, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Champaign County Farm Bureau are hosting a class on July 30. · Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
How many can the class hold?
· Encourage early sign up
· We will have a waiting list if necessary
· If there’s high demand, we’ll consider adding more sessions
What else can we do to assist if we recognize a farmer in distress?
· Use community resources such as clergy
· National Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK
· Farm Aid 800- FARM AID