Farmers nationwide are experiencing socio-economic crisis and Virginia’s farmers are no exception. Farmers in Virginia are under immense stress due to various threats including social threats (within the family or community), economic threats (including land or market loss and associated financial stress), political threats (such as systemic discrimination, racism, and disadvantageous political policy), and environmental threats (like drought, flooding, or pest infestation). Farmers in Virginia experience overwhelming feelings of stress and may encounter associated mental health issues due to the current crises and the threats they face.
To address this, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) designed a Farm Safety, Health, and Wellness Initiative funded by the Southern Extension Risk Management Education grant.Over the course of two years, the Initiative created resources, developed trainings and webinars, and conducted farm dinner theatres, ultimately culminating in the creation of a farm stress and mental health toolkit for farmers and farm service providers to use. In addition to webinar recordings and a how-to guide for farm dinner theatre, the toolkit contains resources on grief during the time of the coronavirus pandemic, best practices for farm financial wellness, a decision-making guide for farm service providers, fictional case studies highlighting various farm stress and mental health issues, and a mental health assessment that farm service providers can use with farmers experiencing stress. As one program participant noted, “This is a really good program and it is good for folks to come together to realize we are all in the same boat.”
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