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Mental health hotline for farmers and ranchers pilots in Wyoming

Farmer with Straw
Los Alamos National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons

News Brief

The AgriStress Helpline is staffed 24/7, similar to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The difference is, if a farmer or rancher calls, they’re going to get a response from someone who’s trained to help agricultural workers.

Tara Haskins is mental health lead for AgriSafe, the organization running the hotline. She said stressors for rural agricultural workers are different than they are for the general public.

“Ag work is hard. A lot of long hours. A lot of sleep loss,” Haskins said. “The work is always there. Many times they're looking out the window of their home, and they're looking at their work all the time.”

AgriStress
Courtesy of AgriSafe
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AgriSafe is piloting the helpline in Wyoming and several other states, and plans to expand it across the country.

Other assistance programs have launched in recent years to help rural producers in the region, especially in Colorado and New Mexico. They’re responding to high suicide rates not only in the Mountain West, but especially among agricultural workers.

“I think understanding the work of ag, understanding the stressors of ag, allows an individual to connect with someone more in a strong way, and also develop a relationship,” Haskins said.

The AgriStress Hotline is available in Wyoming at 833-897-2474.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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