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Serving: MO

Mental health issues can happen at any age

momcilog/Getty Images A male, college student studying and stressed
OVERWHELMED: It has been a difficult year for college students. They’ve seen their time on campus cut short. Some are graduating and entering into an unstable workforce.
College Farmer: In farming, it’s OK to admit that everything is not OK.

A farmer’s job is to grow and nurture — crops, livestock and their families.

By nature, farmers have a love for the land and their livestock, with a stubborn drive and toughness required to get the job done. They don’t take sick days or vacation time without the needs of their livelihood being met first.

Farmers love passing their knowledge down, whether that’s a grandfather teaching his grandkids how to fish or a mother showing her kids the difference between right and wrong. But the greatest attribute of a farmer is the ability to grow a community.

Help is available

Communities in agriculture span farther than county and state lines, and the friendships built often are lifelong. Looking back on a year that included record flooding, a trade war and now a pandemic, farmers need to lean on their communities for support.

In agriculture, we sometimes view struggling to handle challenges that are out of our control as a weakness or shortcoming. We need to realize that everyone struggles, everyone has problems, and, at times, everyone fails.

The biggest mistake that can be made during challenging times is allowing that required stubborn drive to become stubborn pride at the expense of your well-being. It is OK to admit that everything is not OK.

Farming can be lonely, and stress is silent. The worst thing to do is not give it a voice at the cost of your mental health. The communities we have built through agriculture are there to be a flashlight when we are having trouble finding our way in the dark.

Reach out to a family member or a friend, talk to them about things you are struggling with, and you’ll see you aren’t the only one. Even if you don’t want to talk about yourself, get back in touch with an old friend and see how they are doing.

Don’t refuse help

In the greatest Western film or miniseries ever created, Lonesome Dove, one of the main characters, Gus McCray, dies because he wouldn’t let the doctor amputate his leg to save him from gangrene.

“I’ve walked this earth, my whole life with my pride, you see,” he said. “Now if that’s lost, may the rest be lost with it. ‘Cause there’s certain things my vanity won’t abide.”

Being too proud or acting too tough to admit there’s a problem will only eat away at us. In the end, family and community is all we have.

TAGS: Rural Health
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