RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Farmers and other workers in the agricultural industry can face numerous demands that take a toll on their mental health. Now, in an effort to provide support, farmers across Virginia can call or text a mental health helpline specifically intended to help them cope with the unique pressure of their job.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched the AgriStress Helpline for Virginia this week. The helpline is staffed by mental health professionals who are trained to appropriately assist agricultural professionals in Virginia.
The helpline, available at 833-897-2474, is free and confidential, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is available in 160 languages. Those interested an either call or text the number for assistance.
The tipline is designed to assist with the unique challenges of the agricultural community, as well as to combat the stigma that farmers may feel for seeking help.
“The physical demands of farming, isolation, weather variability, fluctuating input cost and commodity prices can all impact mental health,” Matthew Lohr, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, said in a statement. “Stigma and privacy concerns associated with obtaining mental health services may cause some producers to refuse to seek out these very important resources.”
The AgriStress Helpline for Virginia is supported by grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received $500,000 in funding which will support a wide range of agricultural stress programming in addition to the AgriStress Helpline for Virginia.
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is also collaborating with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Tech, AgrAbility Virginia and FARMVA to offer trainings and services to destigmatize mental health care for Virginia farmers.