Mental Health and Wellbeing in Production Agriculture

Most of us have probably heard (or are at least familiar with the concept of) a commercial flight attendant’s briefing of what we must do in the event of an emergency. It is fairly universal that we are told;

“Should an emergency situation occur, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before attempting to help those around you.”

Strong producers understand the importance of attending to their own health and wellbeing in order to be their best for those around them. We try to be proactive and thrive in what can sometimes be a very challenging environment, but most of us also understand that at times it can be overwhelming.

The following is a beginning checklist for us to use to make sure we are taking care of ourselves;

  1. Sleep/ Rest~ Are you getting enough sleep? Is it quality sleep? If not, try to create a nighttime ritual that allows you to turn off at the end of each day, calm your mind and allow yourself the time needed to recharge.
  1. Exercise ~ By getting your body moving, you’re releasing the happy hormones, relieving stress and taking care of yourself. Are you making time for more movement?
  1. Mindfulness ~Stress, anxiety, pressure—it takes its toll. Are you practicing some form of mindfulness to center yourself and regroup? Whether it’s journaling, music, meditation or simply a relaxing bath, do something that makes you feel good each day.
  1. Nutrition ~As tempting as snacking here and there can be, you need to be fueling your body for success. Are you eating a well-balanced diet? Eating enough and eating well? Remember to stay hydrated, too.
  1. Connection ~Connecting with people now more than ever certainly needs to be on your list. Have you called your friends or family recently? Reaching out puts things in perspective, reduces feelings of isolation and sparks joy.

I hope to have much more to offer soon regarding ways that we can make sure we are helping producers in addressing our mental wellbeing, but for now here is a list of resources I hope can be useful.

A Link To Mental Health America and a short video explaining The B4Stage4 Philosophy


The Nebraska Rural Response HOTLINE (1-800-464-0258)

When a farmer, rancher, or rural resident calls the HOTLINE, an experienced staff person will answer to respond directly to callers, discuss issues and needs, provide helpful information, and refer callers to attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, other farmers, mediation. In addition, staff assists callers in dealing with stress, depression, and other mental health issues that often cloud the decision-making abilities of a caller through the COMHT (Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy) Program (1-800-464-0258).

No-cost vouchers and information on confidential mental health issues for persons affected by the rural crisis are available. The project’s aim is to make cost free, confidential mental health crisis counseling available to distressed farm and rural families.

An individual who calls the Rural Response Hotline will be given the names and telephone numbers of participating mental health providers from the geographic area the caller requests A voucher will be sent to the address indicated by the caller. The individual and/or family can then use the voucher at the participating provider of their choice.
A powerful video that can help us remember what we will leave behind.
Click for to be taken to Episodes
(Season 2- Episodes 4 & 7)

The host of this podcast is a friend of mine and we serve together on the Board of Directors for The Lydia Foundation. He graciously allowed me to guest host a podcast so I could address the topic of mental health and wellbeing. My intention was to help breakdown the stigma that some people may still feel about getting help pertaining to mental heath as well as try to give insight to people who have never felt the feelings firsthand.

Season 2 Episode 4 (June 5th 2020) has an intro to both Ty and Dr. Chasek, as well as what science has to offer when dealing with mental wellbeing. (Link to Apple iTunes)

Season 2 Episode 7 (Jan. 23rd 2021) revisits the topic of depression and suicide in the Covid-19 era. (Link to Apple iTunes)


Tyler Harris wrote an article titled “It’s not hopeless: Addressing mental health in rural America” and asked me to contribute.