The Farmer’s Stress Hotline is seeing an increase in calls after multiple weather systems impacted the upper Midwest. Avera Behavioral Health began offering the 24-hour service dedicated to farmers and ranchers in January.
Karl Oehlke is a Physician Assistant in psychiatry with Avera in Sioux Falls. He says he’s heard from callers across the region, including an increase from the northeastern corner of Nebraska and parts of Minnesota.
“Seems like there’s always a little bit of a lag time," he explains. "Obviously, folks in the middle of the flood aren’t gonna stop when they’re trying to take care of their farm, their cattle, whatever. But now that we’re a little bit past that, now we’ve seen some increased phone calls from that area.”
Oehlke says this unusual spring is impacting nearly all ag producers—from cattle ranchers to dairy and crop farmers. The stress and financial uncertainty can trigger depression and anxiety symptoms.
The Farmer’s Stress Hotline offers specific support for ag producers by screening symptoms over the phone and connecting callers with resources. Oehlke says callers can connect with a doctor or faith leader in their own community, or come to Sioux Falls.
“A lot of these folks are in small towns where they maybe go to church with their primary care provider, they go to coffee with their primary care provider, and they’re not comfortable opening up to them in that setting. That’s where we can pull them out of that community, get them down here for instance to see me. And a lot of times that allows them to be more open about their issues as well.”
The Farmer’s Stress Hotline is free and confidential.
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