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Cornell Cooperative Extension provides mental health hotline for farmers

Photo: Dan Davison, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The pandemic has worsened an already strained financial situation for farmers in NY state. In response, the CCE is providing a free, 24/7 mental health hotline for farmers.

Farmers in New York State are struggling with a lot of problems that are taking a toll on their mental health. The pandemic worsened an already difficult financial situation.

Plus, Kendra Janssen says that a lot of farmers are aging, and they’re stressed about the future of their farms. Janssen is with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

In response to the issue, Extension is providing a free 24-hour mental health hotline specifically for farmers. They send trained consultants to help farmers across New York within 24 hours of calling the hotline.

Janssen says they’re trying to help farmers in a holistic way. Where most programs target emotional support or financial advice, she says, theirs does both. Consultants offer both emotional support and financial advice, pointing farmers in the right direction of resources.

There are challenges, though, to getting the program to work. Janssen says stigma surrounding mental healthcare prevents many farmers from getting the help they need.

Janssen says they’re hiring consultants who grew up on farms and are familiar with the industry, so farmers feel more comfortable talking to them. Extension has trained over 300 people in mental health first aide and suicide prevention.

They’re also relying on farmers who have already received help to get the word out.

Janssen says the hotline has been effective. They received nearly 700 calls in 2022.