Resources Available for Those Struggling with Mental Illness, Stress

Atlanta, GA |

Weather, input prices, commodity prices; these are just a handful of the things that are out of farmer’s control and are the reasons why so many struggle with stress and mental health issues. It’s a real problem across the country and is something Kevin Tanner, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities finds deeply troubling and is something he’s seen firsthand.

“For me, having been born in that lifestyle and raised on a farm and having a farm of my own, I know what it’s like to have that generational farm where you’re looking at seven generations of people before me have farmed in North Georgia. They’ve had land in this in this state, you don’t want to be the generation for that to end. And then the other thing about being a farmer; if you work for a company, you’re getting a paycheck every week, every two weeks, you know exactly what you’re getting paid and if it rains or if a storm comes through, you’re still getting a paycheck. But as a farmer, there’s so many things you can do the very best job you can, but there’s so many things out of our control,” says Tanner.

In recent years, the topic of mental health has found its way into the spotlight, as there’s less stigma surrounding the topic. In Georgia, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has even formed a hotline for those in need to be able to call, which Tanner says is just the tip of the iceberg.

“988 is more than a phone number because you can call 988 as a law enforcement officer, as a family member, as someone who needs help themself, whatever the case might be and it may be something as simple as calling 988 to say, ‘I’ve been depressed lately. I’ve got a lot of things going on financially, and I need someone I can talk to, and I have a certain type of insurance,’- they can help connect you to a community-based service. It may be a family member calling to say, ‘my child is in mental health crisis and I need help.’ 988 can dispatch a mobile crisis team anywhere in the state of Georgia. So they will come and meet you where you are and I think that’s important for people to understand. So, it’s more than just talking to someone on the phone. If you need the resource, they’ll come to you,” says Tanner.

In the end, Tanner says regardless of zip code or occupation, 988 is a resource for all, but understands the complexities of mental health challenges within the ag community and wants to reassure that help is just a phone call away.

“I just think that it’s important for the farming community to know how much they’re appreciated because so many people don’t understand where their food comes from, and they just take those things for granted, but I just want our farming community to know that I appreciate the sacrifices they make each and every day. There’s a lot of us that feel that way and that we are here, ready to stand up and provide the resources they need to be successful, because they are the backbone of our state, the number one industry in our state, and they’re the backbone of our country,” says Tanner.

By: John Holcomb