September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and making sure Wisconsin farmers and their families hear that message, the Wisconsin Department of Ag., Trade and Consumer Protection has been highlighting available resources – AND the fact that farmers are using them.
Dan Bauer, Program Supervisor with the WI Farm Center, spoke with Pam Jahnke about the slow progression of getting farmers engaged with available resources.
Bauer says the WI Farm Center Hotline (800-942-2474) saw call volumes escalate throughout 2022 so far. For the first half of their fiscal year, July-December 2021, they witnessed 438 new inquiries or a little over 3 calls per day. For the second half of the fiscal year, which ran January-June of 2022, the call volume went up 25%. The call center handled approximately 4 calls per day, or a total of just under 550 inquiries.
Bauer says the same response can be seen with the Farmer Wellness Program. In the last fiscal year for that program, 157 mental health vouchers were redeemed – meaning farmers are not only accessing the resources, they’re actually using them too.
Bauer also says that farmers helping farmers has gained momentum through online social meetings and various support groups. In 2022, Bauer says online farmer support groups moved from just one, to two times per month meetings when their schedule allowed.
Bauer still encourages farmers, their families, extended families and neighbors to become familiar with the entire menu of services that available. You can start by going to the WI Farm Center website. Farmers can also email the team’s group email box at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s a compliment of services available through various hotlines offered too! The Farm Center Hotline operates Monday through Friday during business hours at 800-942-2474. Staff take calls on a variety of topics and give assistance by referring them to other state and federal resources as appropriate.
If farmers need someone to talk to immediately, any time, any day or night, they should call the 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline – 1-888-901-2558.