May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Georgia’s agricultural community is working to promote resources for rural Georgians to improve their behavioral health and emotional health.
“It is normal to have anxiety or feel depressed. However, if it affects your daily living help is available by calling the Georgia Crisis and Access Line. Seeking treatment for anxiety or depression should be no different than seeking medical help for a physical pain,” said Judy Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Awareness of mental health signs and symptoms and promoting self-care is extremely important.
“Take care of your physical health to help lower stress. Take a break to focus on positive parts of your life, like connections with loved ones,” said Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black. “We are the backbones of our community and wellbeing starts within. Take proactive steps today to promote a healthy lifestyle. Agriculture is a leader in the state economically and promoting healthy practices to nurture our communities across the state is another way in which we can lead.”
The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) began developing mental health resources to share with Georgia's farming community and to address ongoing factors related to COVID-19. In the fall of last year, the GDA received a grant from USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to promote farmer stress and outreach in the state.
The Farmer Ranch Stress Assistance Network, State Departments of Agriculture (FRSAN-SDA) project is focusing on a Georgia Healthy Farmer Mindset that is taking a holistic approach to addressing stress and mental health challenges to the farming community. This is a collaborative initiative with project partners including GDA, The University of Georgia (UGA), AgriSafe, McClendon Law and Consulting, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the Georgia PTA.
“Mental Health Matters. We are asking citizens to find proactive ways to educate those in their communities on stress and mental health and to wear green in honor of mental health awareness month to promote a healthier and more resilient Georgia,” said Venessa Sims, Director of Emergency Management for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
GDA and the UGA Cooperative Extension Service are partnering with the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture, DBHDD, the UGA School of Social Work and the UGA College of Family & Consumer Sciences to host a free, one-day summit to dive into Georgia’s Farm State of Mind. The event, ‘Stress on the Farm: Supporting Wellbeing of Georgia Farm Families,” is scheduled for May 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. To register, click here or visit http://t.uga.edu/80t.
The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture partnered with the Rural Health Innovation Center at the Mercer University School of Medicine to survey Georgia farmers on their stress level in January and February. The center is expected to release the results of the study later this year.
Free bookmarks and small handouts, designed for easy and discreet sharing, for agriculture, food service and hospitality sector employees are available at https://agr.georgia.gov/disaster-relief.aspx.
The Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) is a resource at 800-715-4225 for anyone who wants to talk about stress and may need access to services and immediate crisis help.
Other resources include the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-TALK or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org; AFBF Farm State of Mind (www.fb.or/land/fsom) and UGA’s Rural Georgia Growing Stronger site (www.gfb.ag/ugaextensionstresshelp).
Additional agriculture mental health resources can be found at https://agrisafe.org/healthcare/mental-health.