TYLER, Texas (February 24, 2022) – Those in the agriculture, forestry and commercial fishing (AgFF) industries face increasingly high levels of stress daily brought on by weather changes, price increases, market fluctuations, trade agreements, labor shortages, isolation, lack of resources … the list goes on.
The common denominator here is uncertainty. The constant feeling that things are out of one’s control can lead to chronic stress, and if left untreated, a worsened mental state and potentially thoughts of suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported those in the AgFF sector have higher rates of suicide than the general population.1 Simply stated, essential workers need essential mental health resources. Yet, when resources are made available, some rural residents do not access them due to barriers like cost, location and stigma.
The Southwest Center for Agriculture Health, Injury Prevention and Education (SW Ag Center) has partnered with the AgriSafe Network and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to address the need for stress assistance within the agriculture community.
Resources are now available on the SW Ag Center webpage. Additional resources include the Seasons Change | You RemainSM social media toolkit, trainings for county extension and TDA agents and the AgriStress Helpline for Texans.
Not only is it crucial for the AgFF community to have resources at their disposal during a crisis, but to also know what stress looks like in themselves and others. According to a recent poll by the American Farm Bureau Federation, “farmers/farmworkers were not confident they would be able to spot the warning signs of [stress or] a mental health condition.” This project aims to change that.2
Those who wish to access the AgriStress Helpline for Texans may call 833-897-2474 for immediate assistance.
The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education was created in late 1995 at The University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center to serve Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as part of a program initiative of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The initiative established a network of centers, funded on a competitive basis, to conduct programs of research, prevention, intervention, education and outreach designed to reduce occupational injuries and diseases among agricultural workers and their families.