Monitoring mental illness for farmers

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 6:07 PM CST
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Dakota Wesleyan welcomed farmers, pastors, counselors, and community members today to talk about mental health.

The emphasis at the event was on the South Dakota farm stress crisis happening right now.

Fostering Communities of Hope is a daylong event focused on the mental health and suicide prevention of farmers across the state of South Dakota.

Something that has become critical after the effect that flooding had on farmers in 2019.

South Dakota farmer Lars Aga said, “The last year on the farm has been probably one of the most difficult years we’ve put in in a long time.”

Lars Aga is a farmer in the Vermillion-Gayville area and knows the importance of farmers acknowledging their mental health.

"We don’t come forward with our problems very well, and so watching around to see what someone is going through is definitely key to picking up on what might be a problem out there,” said Aga.

Overall, the event taught farmers, and those who care about them, how to address mental health and prevent suicide.

South Dakota Synod Bishop, Constanze Hagmaier said, “In an attempt to bring people together, to be equipped to be a neighbor to their neighbor in times of crisis and disaster and stress.”

April Bolton of Lutheran Social Services added, “Be brave enough to ask your neighbor, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Do you need help?’ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘I’m concerned about you.’ I think we are all too often afraid to ask those questions because we are not sure what to do with the answers, and beyond that knowing that there are resources in your community that you can reach out to.”

And if there’s one thing to take away from the event.

Hagmaier said, “Leave here today and take one seed with that they can implant in their community and then grow that seed from there.”

“The fact that you probably need to go out and have more interactions with your neighbors and watch what is going on around you then just what’s going on in your own little world,” said Aga.