According to Mental Health America, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86 per cent of adults experienced a mental illness — that’s the equivalent of nearly 50 million Americans. Unfortunately, over half of adults with a mental illness don’t receive treatments, which totals to over 27 million adults in the U.S. untreated for a mental illness.
Mental health awareness starts with education and understanding the impact of mental health.
“When implementing mental health policies and practices, the best place to start is simply with education,” says Adrienne DeSutter, mental health specialist with the Farm State of Mind. “Take time to understand mental health in all forms, from learning about mental health conditions (like depression or anxiety) to being proactive players in managing stress. Creating a healthy work climate for your employees will be much more effective if you know more about the mental health you’re hoping to protect.”
A great resource to learn about mental health, to hear personal stories from individuals in the agriculture industry, as well as experts, are podcasts. Here are three podcasts to expand knowledge on mental health.
Agriculture Focused: How to Promote Mental Health in Agriculture
Guests Megz Reynolds, executive director for the Do More Agriculture Foundation, and Jessica Cabrera, managing director at American Farm Bureau Federation, joined Seed World Group to discuss the importance of mental health awareness in the agricultural community.
“We may not all deal with a mental illness at some point in our lives, but we all are going to have challenges with our mental health at some point,” says Megz.
“I think we, especially in agriculture, have normalized some indicators. Do you have a short fuse? Are you always tired? Are you eating more or eating less? Are you consuming alcohol more than you should be? These are all things that we’ve normalized in the industry as personality traits, but they are often all symptoms of an underlying mental health or mental illness that we need to be dealing with or seeking professional help for.”
Do More Ag and Farm Bureau both offer extensive resources, such as Farm Bureau’s national resource directory, which includes a list of resources for every state and Puerto Rico.
“Sometimes people email me from a small community in a state far from here asking, ‘Who can I turn to?’ To have that directory, to be able to say, ‘Well tell me what state you’re from, and let’s find some of the resources that are available near you’ is very, very helpful,” explains Jessica.
Farmer Focused: Mental Health on the Farm
This podcast is produced by Commodity Classic, the farmer-led and focused agricultural educational experience, in collaboration with The National Association of Farm Broadcasters.
Panelists Adrienne DeSutter, Ted Matthews, Jason Medows and Lowell Neitzel come together to highlight the importance of the mental health issues farmers face. Through personal stories, the panelists aim to reassure listeners that they are not alone in their struggles.
“You know, as farmers, we’re supposed to be these tough guys. We just run hard all the time, and nothing can take us down. But, you know, we have so much worry and so much stuff on the plate that sometimes we can’t handle it all at once. It is refreshing to have people I look to in my community as role models and leaders to say, ‘Hey, I’ve been in your position too,’ and it was really eye-opening and nice to hear that they’d been in my situation too and I wasn’t alone,” Neitzel shared in the episode.
Listen to the full episode here.
General Mental Health: Mental Illness Happy Hour
Hosted by comedian Paul Gilmartin, the “Mental Illness Happy Hour” podcast talks to weekly guests about their mental health struggles. Gilmartin’s comedic background lends to the vulnerability of the show, proving that even those who appear the happiest deal with mental illnesses.
“Gilmartin takes this cliche seriously, creating a perversely safe place in which he and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods. As a result, ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour’ isn’t funny; if anything, it’s so unfunny that it takes a few episodes to realize that what you’re listening to is not a goof,” shared the New York Times.
While “Mental Illness Happy Hour” isn’t specific to the agricultural industry, every human faces similar struggles and can utilize the show’s nearly 600 episodes as a resource to learn more about mental health.
“Paul’s hope is that the show and this website will give people a place to connect, smile and feel the return of hope. The biggest myth about mental illness is that you are alone and there is no help. Help starts with talking to someone who knows exactly how you feel,” explained the official website for “Mental Illness Happy Hour.”
Listen to the full episode here.