MSU Extension Program looks to help farmer deal with stress

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Tariffs, market uncertainty, and weather are just a few of the challenges farmers face, and this year’s flooding has left many farmers feeling even more pressure.

“The weather patterns this year have been especially trying for those in the Delta, but also for folks around here. It’s been late planting and uncertainty even early on if they would even be able to plant. So, it’s going to delay them getting crops out of the field which perpetuating that cycle of stress,” said Dr. David Buys.

But farmers also face other occupational hazards that can lead to more problems.

“You show up at the emergency room for a sprained ankle after your trip coming off the tractor, and you know boom I’ve got an opioid prescription and I start taking that now my the stress that I was feeling from all these other factors don’t seem to be quite as bad so maybe I’ll slip into a pattern of miss-use,” said Buys.

To help spot the signs of possible stress, Dr. David Buys said Mississippi State extension agents are being trained in Mental Health First Aid.

“What we do want is for those ag agents, those extension agents, that are out in the community working with producers every day to know when to spot something that may be challenging them or a person that may be going through challenges, and what to say, what not to say, how to be helpful, how to ultimately, and connect them to care,” said Buys.

In addition to spotting struggling farmers, the agents are there to help them understand they’re not alone.

“Destigmatizing mental health is a large part of the work we do now I just acknowledging that this is really a lot of struggle with this and everybody is situation is unique we don’t encounter the same exact situation, but there are some commonalities, and most people do you have difficult times and need that help” said Buys.

Dr. Buys encouraged any farmers struggling mentally to call their family doctor, reach out to a counselor, or talk to your extension agent to get connected with someone who can help.

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