Ag Week reports on tele-mental health for farmers…
Along with farmer-specific helplines, farmers across the country can now seek help for mental stress through virtual counseling and online training, according to interviews with health professionals.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to receive help virtually. According to a June report from the American Psychological Association, about 75% of clinicians were only treating patients remotely.
But the telehealth options for farmers have little to do with the pandemic. Instead, experts said, teletherapy can make mental health services more accessible and more confidential for farmers.
They don’t have to travel potentially long distances to receive help. Nor do they have to risk being seen at therapy, because there is a stigma of mental health issues in the farming community.
Minnesota has set up a hotline…
Several Midwestern states — including Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa — also have a hotline or helpline specifically for farmers.
Services are available by phone and broadband…
Monica McConkey, a counselor in Minnesota, is also doing many of her sessions virtually, but she said most of her clients prefer speaking on the phone rather than via Zoom or Facetime.
McConkey agreed that virtual counseling is easier for those who typically have to travel long distances to access care, especially in the fall when people are harvesting. She also said some people feel more protected on a virtual platform compared to in-person counseling.
“If emotional things do come up, they’re not sitting face-to-face with people,” McConkey said. “We know a lot of our farmers, even just showing the emotion of crying is really hard for them when there are other people present.”
When internet connections become spotty, a familiar experience in rural areas, people can call on the phone, McConkey said.