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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Help Those Who Feed Us

 THE EDITORIAL BOARD

The #financial struggles of #American #farmers are well-known, and the #stress of making a living as a #farmer in the #UnitedStates and Ohio are taking a toll in lives. #Suicide and #mentalhealthtroubles are epidemic among #farmers and in #ruralcommunities generally. The Ohio Farm Bureau has made #farm #stress a top-priority issue for 2020.

#Farmers and #rural citizens need better access to #mentalhealthcare. That can happen with a focus on bringing practitioners to #ruralcommunities through enhanced incentives and expansion of telehealth services in #rural areas. The state should target additional #mentalhealth funding to help underserved portions of the state and save lives.

Rural parts of Ohio had the highest #suicide rates in the state from 2014-2018, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Counties with high rates of #suicide included Meigs, Jackson, and Hocking in the southern part of the state. Fulton County also had a #suicide rate above the state average.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

A 2017 study by the University of Iowa showed evidence of a high rate of #suicide among #farmers and agricultural workers nationwide.

Despite some admirable state efforts, #farmers and #ruralcommunities remain underserved and need better access to #mentalhealth and #suicidepreventioncare. Gov. Mike DeWine is a strong advocate for improving access to #mentalhealthcare. Ohio is not where it needs to be on #mentalhealthservices, Mr. DeWine has said.

The need has already been identified by the Governor’s Certified Shortage Areas designations for #ruralhealth clinics — and that designation covers half the states counties. It’s time for a focused effort in #mentalhealth and #suicidepreventionservices.

The governor and legislators know the need. Direct funding to expand services should also be considered, whether via grant or other funding.

Since it does no good to have a center with inadequate or overworked staff, incentives to bring practitioners into #rural areas should be offered. For instance, existing loan repayment programs should be expanded and tax credits offered for #mentalhealthpractitioners willing to locate in #rural areas.

It must be acknowledged the state is making an effort. The “Ohio’s Got Your Back” campaign is designed to connect #farmers with #mentalhealthresources. In most cases though, local resources remain inadequate.

That’s why expanding personnel at clinics is important since there is no substitute for direct interaction with a counselor. Expanding telehealth services could help meet some of the need and provide ways for practitioners to keep in touch with individuals who may not be able to make a long drive to a clinic regularly. Jack LessenberryLessenberry: Scientists need to explain just what science is good for

#Farmers don’t keep regular hours, and sometimes the drive to a clinic simply loses priority to taking care of a farm. #Rural residents working out of town could also benefit from telehealth appointments at off hours.

The State Office of Rural Health plays a vital role in aiming to provide better access to #mentalhealthcare and #suicideprevention for #farmers and all #rural residents. The office cannot do the job without the availability of practitioners and added telehealth services.

It’s time to act to save lives. #Farmers and #ruralcommunities deserve better access to #mentalhealth and #suicide-prevention services.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

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