Mental stress was already high on Wisconsin farms, and now the extra announcement of tariff action against China puts many Wisconsin agricultural products in an uncertain future. Dealing with the stress of low commodity prices, increasing costs, and just challenges all around is difficult for anyone. Asking for help can be especially difficult for very independent, and proud farmers. Dr. Emily Jewell, Family Medicine Practitioner with SSM Health in Dodgeville, knows all about it. She’s got farming roots.
It’s those farming roots that are making a difference today when Jewell comes face-to-face with farming patients and the stress they’re dealing with – as well as some of the patterns fairly specific to farming.
“The first and foremost thing is to be able to look inside yourself and acknowledge you’re feeling stress and struggling to deal with it,” according to Jewell. “Feeling like you have someone you can go to, whether it’s your spouse, a neighbor, someone else in the community, is critical. Unfortunately, sometimes with depression, one of the things that does to us is make it difficult to reach out for help.”
Jewell says it’s important that family members, neighbors, and agribusiness partners pay attention to changes in someone’s behavior. Talk to them, ask them if they’re alright, and let them know you’re there for them if they need help. Paying attention to changes in mood, or altering activities, can be signs of stress.
Jewell calls the mental stress facing Wisconsin farms “epidemic” and one that can require professional assistance. She says mental stress can also manifest itself if physical aches and pains.
If you’re finding yourself in need of someone to talk to, the Wisconsin Farm Center Hotline is available to any Wisconsin farm family. Their tollfree number is 800-942-2474.