The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announces the official launch of the AgriStress Helpline for Virginia to provide the Commonwealth’s agricultural producers with mental health support. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has interpretation services for 160 languages. Farmers can call or text 833-897-2474 to speak directly with a healthcare professional. Crisis specialists have access to a Virginia specific curated database of agricultural and health resources.
“The physical demands of farming, isolation, weather variability, fluctuating input cost and commodity prices can all impact mental health. Stigma and privacy concerns associated with obtaining mental health services may cause some producers to refuse to seek out these very important resources,” said Matthew Lohr, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “The AgriStress Helpline for Virginia is specifically geared to those in the state’s agricultural community who are seeking mental health support. A call or text to 833-897-2474 will put them in contact with trained professionals who can offer support and/or help find mental health resources in a specific area of the state.”
VDACS partnered with AgriSafe to launch the AgriStress Helpline for Virginia, which is supported by grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. VDACS received $500,000 in funding which will support a wide range of agricultural stress programming in addition to the AgriStress Helpline for Virginia. AgriSafe is a national 501c3 organization representing health and safety professionals who strive to reduce health disparities in the agricultural community.
“I am pleased that through our partnership with AgriSafe, we have a dedicated helpline for Virginia agricultural producers. In addition to being a free, confidential resource, this new helpline aids our efforts to promote mental health and stress awareness and broaden the availability of resources to reduce stress points in rural Virginia,” said Joseph Guthrie, Commissioner of VDACS. “Anyone who considers themselves part of Virginia’s agricultural community is encouraged to call or text 833-897-2474 any time they are in crisis. The helpline is staffed by mental health professionals who are trained to respond appropriately and specifically to agricultural communities with Virginia specific resources.”
In addition to the new helpline, VDACS is also collaborating with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Tech, AgrAbility Virginia, FARMVA, and other industry organizations, to offer trainings and other services to destigmatize and recognize the critical issue of stress among Virginia farmers.