Mental Health Resources from Land Grants Can Save Lives

Planting should be ramping into high gear across the Midwest and getting the seed into the ground is an exciting time each season. For farmers it brings more stress too. We all have stress in our lives, but there are some unique stressors for those in agriculture.
Remington-Rice-MSU.png“Farming can be an incredibly unpredictable, dangerous and stressful occupation,” says Dr. Remington Rice, a 5th generation cattle farmer and Extension Educator in Health & Farm Stress at Michigan State University. “It can be hazardous to your physical health which then can impact your behavioral health and this unpredictability of farming can be incredibly difficult to manage. There may be short or long-term weather impacts and we don’t really get to choose what will happen there, along with changes in regulations, changes in the markets.”
Rice has also worked closely with those on the Purdue Farm Stress team. He says learning to manage your stress is paramount, and the MSU Managing Farm Stress program is here to provide help, all of it at no cost. Resources include connecting you with a teletherapy professional and even offering farm financial resources.
But in the farming community the biggest battle may be getting an individual to take the difficult step of allowing someone to help, admitting that help may be needed.
“Seeking help for Behavioral Health is something that’s novel for a lot of farmers,” Rice explained. “Whenever I go into a room and present to a group of farmers and I say the word therapy, I can feel the temperature of the room drop because there seems to be some mysticism or maybe just misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge or awareness of what therapy is and what this help looks like.”

Jim LaPeer, a farmer from Cheboygan County, talks about his experience with MSU Extension’s teletherapy program

Rice shared a note from a cattle farmer who used the teletherapy program after his veterinarian noticed a drastic change in his mood. “I didn’t believe in the counseling program when you shared it with me, but this program gave me my life back and may have saved it in the process.”
When that farmer, Jim LaPeer, was asked if other farmers should consider the program, his response was “Yes! As long as you go into it with an open mind and look at the support there. They’re there to help me, to listen, to talk, just a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to any producer that’s running into those kind of problems.”
For more, click the link for video with LaPeer and his wife. Online resources are available here. And click the audio player for the full interview with Rice:

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