August 17, 2022
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SC AgriWellness offers free mental health services to farmers

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SC AgriWellness aims to connect farmers to mental health resources to help them manage the pressures of farming.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — Every year, farmers are faced with the pressure of having a successful yield. For many, this year has heightened these pressures. Fortunately, a program in South Carolina aims to connect farmers with mental health resources to help them manage the stress.

Landrum Weathers is the owner of Buck Branch Farms in Bowman where he grows corn, cotton, peanuts, and soy beans.

“That’s the best thing about farming, no day’s the same,” said Weathers.

However, he says it came with its challenges.

“The challenges this year, have just been in availability. Supply chain issues, logistics, all that sort of thing, pretty much the same story you’ve seen everywhere, but our stakes have certainly gotten higher,” he said.

For some farmers, the pressure has become too much to handle, weighing down on their mental health. Dr. Adam Kantrovich of the Clemson Extension says he has seen this happen firsthand.

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“Prior to arriving here at Clemson University, when I was still working with another institution up north, there were a series of suicides that took place within our farming communities and we had some individuals around the state that came to us asking what can we do about it,” said Extension Specialist in Agribusiness Dr. Kantrovich.

Kantrovich says due to resource availability, many farmers have been unable to access mental health professionals. In addition, he says discussions around mental health in the agriculture community for a long time have been considered taboo.

In South Carolina, an AgriWellness program makes it possible for farmers to receive help over the phone.

“There are crisis counselors that will answer the phone. We’ll run through a series of questions to make sure there is no immediate danger or issues,” said Kantrovich.

RELATED: South Carolina cattle farmers form cooperative to increase meat processing capacity

The program was launched three years ago in partnership with the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, area farmers, and the First Sun EAP. As part of the program, South Carolina Farmers can receive three free counseling sessions.

“If you need to talk to somebody, reach out to somebody, it could be a friend, it could be a family member, it could be the entity I spoke about earlier, they’d be glad to talk to you,” said Weathers.

The number to call to receive help is 1-800-968-8143. SC farmers and their families should reference “SC AgriWellness” when they call.



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