In addition to the public health crisis, last year introduced new pandemic-related financial stress. The year prior, low commodity prices and poor weather devastated many farms. The fact is, that stress is always present when it comes to farming. The pressure to keep the operation in the family can be intense, and the work is both physically and mentally taxing, coming with long hours and periods of isolation.
As a farmer-owned cooperative, we recognize these and more unique stressors among farmers and have worked toward bolstering mental health in rural communities. While Land O'Lakes isn't a health care provider, we can use our vast network to connect our members to people who are.
Prior to the pandemic, we partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to provide learning opportunities throughout our members’ communities. About 60 participants joined us for these initial trainings focused on recognizing the signs of distress and supporting loved ones through mental health recovery.
In fall, we introduced the new LifeMatters program and hotline, which enables members and their families to access services that promote whole-person well-being. Through the program, members or anyone in their family can access six free video-conferenced counseling sessions annually, simply by going to mylifematters.com and entering the company password: LOL. The site also serves as a learning hub for topics related to mental wellness, personal finance, and health and nutrition.
We also recognize that it can be difficult for many in rural communities to access reliable services. That’s why we are committed to continue partnering with professionals to spread awareness and promote mental health resources that are easily accessible, confidential, effective and—when possible—delivered by people who have deep knowledge of and connection to rural communities and farming life. We have compiled a list of mental health, stress and wellness resources available in the communities where many of our member-owners live and work.
This Mental Health Awareness Month, it can’t be said enough: When it comes to protecting mental health, passive systems don’t work. The reason is that those most at risk for mental distress or suicide tend to go undetected and therefore, untreated.
If you know someone who may benefit from services, or you want more information for yourself or someone you know, find links to the Member Assistance Program and more local providers on the Member Resource Page.