This May during Mental Health Month, the soy community will continue to combat farm stress by offering #SoyHelp. The American Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, and soy states want to help farmers who may need a hand managing the stress of life on the farm.
Help comes in many forms and from many sources, and the groups have researched and updated a range of options that will be shared both nationally and by state soybean affiliates throughout the month. The online resource includes:
- National mental health resources, including crisis centers and suicide hotlines
- Agriculture-specific resources for farmers and farm families, both national and by soy state
While the pandemic certainly exacerbated farm stress, farmers are routinely faced with varying levels of anxiety resulting from a host of ongoing and unexpected concerns, from weather occurrences to supply issues, trade troubles to creeping inflation.
Brad Doyle, president of ASA and soybean farmer from Arkansas said, “We want these resources to resonate regardless of age, location, race, gender, or the circumstances that have led to needing a hand. Whether a long-time farmer feeling overwhelmed by a current situation, a young person just starting out in agriculture facing financial hardships, or family members trying to navigate how to assist their loved ones, we want them to have a starting point for seeking help.”
Included in the resources are links to self-assessments, professional services, and local health care facilities, hotlines for urgent needs, warmlines for helpful advice, chat and text lines for instant access, and articles on symptoms, solutions, and how to start uncomfortable but healthy discussions.
Soy farmer and USB Chair Ralph Lott from New York said, “The #SoyHelp campaign has two objectives. Certainly we want to get resources in the hands of those who need help and make sure they are aware that options exist for managing and mending their mental wellness. But, we also hope this ongoing campaign will continue to chip away at the old stigmas that sometimes exist in talking openly about the tolls of stress and seeking help — especially in rural communities.”
The #SoyHelp campaign is a joint outreach project started by concerned national and state soy groups in May 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey conducted in April that year by the American Soybean Association COVID-19 Task Force captured pandemic effects reported by soy growers on them, their operations, employees, and families. Stress reported by the 86 farmer respondents from across the soy-producing states was high, leading to the #SoyHelp campaign. The survey was sent to approximately 140 farmer leaders serving on the boards of ASA, USB and USSEC, with 60% of those persons participating.