May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Farming can take a toll on mental health, which is often a tough subject to discuss in rural America. The Purdue Extension Farm Stress Team is looking to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health so farmers can get the help they need.
“Mental health is one of those things where how it affects us is as unique as we are as individuals. Everybody’s struggle looks different, and everybody handles things differently,” says Abby Heidenreich, Purdue Extension Educator in Orange County and a member of the Purdue Extension Farm Stress Team.
She shares some of the things you should look out for in yourself or in others as a sign of mental health struggles, like extreme changes.
“Someone who is eating a lot or isn’t eating at all. People who are usually pretty regular attendees at certain meetings or at church and they stop coming, or they start coming to something all of a sudden. Changes in behavior and extremes in those behaviors are telltale red flags that something’s going on. Something either good or bad could be happening, but it warrants a conversation.”
So, if those folks you always see at the doughnut shop or the coffee shop on Wednesday morning at 8am suddenly aren’t there, Heidenreich says, “All it takes is just a phone call to reach out to someone and ask what’s going on. That phone call could mean a lot to that person. It really goes a long way just to show that you care about your friends, your neighbors, and even your family members.”
Heidenreich encourages farmers to visit the Purdue Extension Farm Stress Team website for mental health resources. Hear our interview with Heidenreich on our weekend show, Hoosier Ag This Week, which is also a podcast that will be released Saturday morning.