May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) are working together to promote resources for mental health and self-care.
“Cultivating care in your daily life and prioritizing mental health are vital to ensuring the success of Georgia’s agriculture industry and well-being of the farmers and producers who make up Georgia’s agricultural community” said Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. “I’m proud that the Georgia Department of Agriculture is partnering with DPH and DBHDD to educate and spread awareness of the resources available to farmers and producers when it comes to ag stress and mental health. For the first time, links to these resources will be prominently displayed on the GDA website and our team will be sharing recipes and wellness resources throughout Mental Health Awareness Month to nurture our communities across the state.”
Links to these resources can be found at the GDA website: https://agr.georgia.gov/mental-health-resources. The GDA promotes awareness of the ABCs of Stress and Mental Health: Awareness, Balance, and Connections. Being aware of signs and symptoms, cultivating balance in your daily life, and connecting to those in your family and community are vitally important. Finding entertaining ways to get out to support family connections like finding a local agritourism site: https://georgia-agritourism.org/Find_a_Farm, or visiting your local State Park: https://gastateparks.org/ are valuable ways to connect with those you love.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Michael, GDA began developing mental health resources to share with Georgia’s agricultural community and has continued to do so with a grant received 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), the Georgia PTA, Mercer Rural Health Innovation Center, HERO Agriculture in Calhoun, and STAG Vets in Milledgeville. The Georgia Agricultural Wellness Alliance has been established to support these goals: https://gafarmstress.org/.
“Understanding symptoms of stress and mental health and the impacts of sleep and nutrition on your overall wellbeing is important. Georgia is making great strides in making mental and behavioral health services accessible to those who need them. If you are in need help, there is hope. Caring and compassionate support is just a phone call away. Find anonymous support from Georgia-based counselors by dialing 9-8-8 or calling or texting the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) 800-715-4225” said Commissioner Kevin Tanner, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Additional agriculture mental health resources can be found at https://agrisafe.org/healthcare/mental-health and at https://extension.uga.edu/topic-areas/timely-topics/Rural.html. For immediate assistance, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line tollfree at 1-800-715-4225 (language assistance available) or visit https://dbhdd.georgia.gov/access-services. People can DIAL 988 or go to the website at 988ga.org if you are in distress, feel like there may be a risk of suicide, or are having a crisis related to mental health, substance use, or a developmental disability. For our Veterans and Veteran Farmers, the Department of Veterans Affairs established 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) in 2020 to help Veterans, their family members, caregivers, and survivors understand and access the broad spectrum of VA benefits and services.