Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced the launch of an AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania farmers. The hotline is a free service available to Pennsylvania farmers and farm families seeking mental health support.

“Our agricultural community faces unique challenges. Farmers often work alone, live where they work and encounter pressures of changing markets, unpredictable weather, business transitions and legacy,” said Redding. “These stressors can weigh heavily on individuals and families, but help is available. The AgriStress Helpline is a tool to connect farmers to mental health resources and healthcare professionals. We want folks to know that it’s ok to ask for help.”

The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers can call 833-897-AGRI (2474) to speak to a healthcare professional.

The AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania is supported by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network awarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to carry out programming to address farmer stress and suicide. In addition to the Department’s partnership with AgriSafe to launch the hotline, the grant dollars support mental health resources available through the Center for Dairy Excellence, marketing to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma, and regional collaboration with the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Long-time advocate for mental health services for the agriculture sector Senator Elder Vogel, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, joined Redding today in support of the launch.

“While farmers are traditionally less likely to seek professional help, it is vital that we connect those in the agricultural community with the necessary resources for them to obtain the help they need when dealing with a mental health issue,” said Senator Vogel. “The opening of the AgriStress HelpLine is a major step forward as we seek to provide access to care to a vital population that so often will bear their burdens in silence.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, financial challenges, farm or business problems and the fear of losing the farm are top contributors to farmers’ mental health. Cost, embarrassment and stigma often prevent farmers from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition.

“There can be a stigma around seeking help for mental health issues and we need to make farmers aware of all of the tools available to them,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert.  “This helpline will provide another resource for farmers to reach out to trained professionals and get the assistance they need.”

The AgriSafe Network is a non-profit organization that strives to reduce health disparities in agricultural communities. AgriSafe supports a network of trained agricultural health and safety professionals to provide preventative services for farm families. The AgriStress Response Network seeks to eliminate the stigma around accessing support for mental health including stress, depression, anxiety and suicide.

Anyone who works in Pennsylvania agriculture and wants to talk to someone is encouraged to contact the AgriStress Helpline by calling 833-897-AGRI (2474).

For more information about the AgriStress HelpLine for Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov and click on the Mental Wellness icon.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Shannon Powers – [email protected]

 

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