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Avera Medical Minute: Resources for farmers & ranchers dealing with stress

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The drought is taking a toll on a lot of people, especially farmers and ranchers.

For some, it’s weighing heavy on their mental health.

Karl Oehlke is a physician assistant with Avera Health. He’s also a third-generation farmer. He created a hotline for farmers and ranchers who are struggling.

Paige: How are farmers and ranchers holding up during the drought right now?

Oehlke: Well, the drought’s been stressful. The drought is extremely pervasive. We’ve been kind of saddled with multiple years of issues, primarily weather issues, going on for a couple of years of excessive moisture, flooding, those types of concerns. Now we’ve flipped the script, pretty tough to get the rain started.

Paige: Are you seeing an increase in calls at all due to this increase in drought and the hard times that farmers are feeling right now?

Oehlke: We have. There’s certainly been a bump. There’s kind of an ebb and flow to it I would say. But overall we have seen an increase in the number of calls across all spectrums of ag -- crop production, dairy, your beef guys, hog guys, pandemic concerns still weighing heavy on folks.

Paige: For those who are struggling, where can they go for help?

Oehlke: The Avera Farm Stress Hotline is an excellent resource. It’s staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, one hundred percent anonymous and free. (It’s) staffed by our licensed counselors, who then assist folks with triaging that call and getting folks set up with the kind of help they’re looking for. People fear that talking about emotions exudes vulnerability, weakness when in all essence, you’re not alone in any of your struggles. Getting help, reaching for help, making that call, starting that conversation -- that’s a sign of resiliency and strength and we will certainly help you get through the issues that you’re dealing with now.

Farm and Rural Stress Hotline: 1-800-691-4336

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