New mental health crisis hotline available for Missouri farmers

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 7:33 AM CDT
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - There is now a place where Missouri farmers can get easy access to mental health resources.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture launched the 24/7 AgriStress Helpline earlier this month.

According to one study, between 2003 and 2017, the suicide rate among rural Missourians grew by 78 percent.

Officials at Mark Twain Behavioral Health said the hotline can be useful because it can be a challenge for rural areas to access care.

They said they have seen an increase in people reaching out for help since COVID-19 and that trend continues to grow with 97 people reaching out for help since the beginning of August.

“A lot of times, economically they’re challenged in these rural areas,” marketing director Rhonda Byers said. “Transportation can be a problem.”

Byers said farmers might have to drive up to an hour to get help, and with high gas prices some don’t feel comfortable driving that far.

She said the help line can direct them to local services and resources and even explore telehealth options if necessary.

The line is staffed by those who have a back ground in agriculture. In Illinois, they have a similar hotline and farmers have been taking advantage of it.

“With high inflation, high input prices, there’s a lot of stress out in the agricultural world right now,” Adams County Farm Bureau manager Shawn Vaulter said. “So it’s important that someone understands what they are going through.”

Those in need can call or text the hotline at 833-897-2472.

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