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Helping Farmers with their Mental Health

Thursday, June 1st, 2023 -- 9:01 AM

(Wisconsin Ag Connection) The saying that we’re all in this together isn’t necessarily felt by those that suffer from mental health.

According to the Wisconsin Ag Connection, Randy Roecker, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, who has been very open about his mental health struggle agrees. After seeking professional medical treatment in a vast number of different ways, Roecker said none of it really helped and his depression escalated.

“This is exactly why farmers keep to themselves and nobody likes to talk about things like this,” Roecker states. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just knew I felt overwhelmingly stressed out and sad.”

The nonstop worries of a new farm expansion that came with a pricey monthly bill kept him awake at night. It also spiraled his mental health. Today, Roecker’s mental health is starkly better, and the farmer finds therapy in advocating for mental health in his small Sauk County Wisconsin community.

“Farmers keep to themselves, and nobody likes to talk about things like this,” he states. “So, one thing that I stress is that it’s okay to talk about how we are feeling. We need to shut down the stigma associated with depression.”

The dairy producer started holding meetings at his local church to talk about stress and mental health and it kind of grew from there. Roecker even spoke to NBC Nightly News about farmers struggling with mental health.

Away from the national media, Roecker’s focus is turned to Farmer Angle Network, where he helps address the challenges farmers are faced with and open conversations up about mental health. “So many times, I just needed someone to listen and not ask, ‘What’s wrong with you?’”

The focus is also extended to training milk haulers and nutritionists and others that stop by farms. Roecker says outside team members can talk to farmers, listen to them, and persuade them not to do anything to harm themselves and then refer them to the proper people that can offer help.

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