If you’ve been following my blogs or my social media, you know what mental health in agriculture means to me. In fact, two of the most honest and open things I’ve ever put out into the world are thanks to this blog. The first, a video titled Dear Struggling Farmer, spoke to how farming can emotionally and mentally drain you in a way that nothing else can. The second, an article titled Down a Dark Path, is still one of the scariest things I’ve ever shared. It was a very personal article about my own mental health struggles.
Well, May is mental health awareness month, and I really just have one thing to say.
How are you?
No, really, how are you?
Three little words. One simple question. Ask it once, and the most common response is, “I’m okay, how about you?” Ask it a second time, and you may get a more honest answer. Guys, it really is that simple. Now more than ever, farmers need to be there for each other. The fear of what agriculture is going to look like on the other side of this pandemic is so real that we can’t afford to ignore our anxieties.
And I know what you’re thinking, we don’t get out much in normal times. Especially when we’re all quarantined to our homes, how can we be there for one another?
Use social media. It’s surprisingly easy. Don’t just like a post; comment on it. Or go the extra mile and send someone a message. More than once I’ve read a post and though I had a good comment to make, I just kept scrolling. Take the time. Type the comment.
The bottom line is this: Ask the question, show concern, and care about the answer. You don’t need to fix our problems; we just want to know that someone understands. We all want to know that we’re not alone. Because you most definitely are not alone. Say it out loud. Whether it’s publicly via your Instagram stories or a private message you send someone you follow. Just typing it out can be a huge mental relief.
Let me just end with this. You can find me at Spruce Row Farm on Facebook and @seejessfarm on Instagram. You can vent to me if I can vent to you. Take care of yourselves and each other. We’re all just out here trying to survive the best we can.
The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.