Avera Medical Minute: Farm and Rural Stress Hotline helps meet need

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Karl Oehlke, a physician assistant with Avera Medical Group-Psychiatry, discussed the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline available to those in agriculture experiencing stress.

“The Farm and Rural Stress Hotline came fully together in the spring of 2019,” Oehlke said.

Brainstorming with colleagues around the clinic and the hospital started in the fall of 2018 in response to a prolonged harvest and significant wet issues. “We were harvesting late into the year. Corn was extremely wet still. It was very challenging,” Oehlke said.

The question became how to promote mental health with agriculture producers and ranchers throughout the state and region.

“The hotline was initially aimed towards ag producers and their close family members. But I tell anyone directly or indirectly involved with ag, they are more than welcome to call the hotline. We have trained professionals there 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Oehlke said.

Oehlke said the biggest purpose of the hotline is to provide an open door. “We have avenues to help folks get counseling, medication assistance. The hotline can also help with educational materials, getting folks hooked up for instance with the South Dakota Extension or the 211 Hotline.”

For more information about the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline, visit avera.org/medicalminute.