Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, held a video press conference announcing the National Agricultural Crisis Hotline Act to provide desperately needed mental health support to New York’s 55,000+ agricultural workers and their families. Farmers face a number of unique stressors that can impact their mental health, including uncertain weather, fluctuating market conditions, and social isolation, and the suicide rate among farmers is 3.5 times the rate among the general population.
The National Agricultural Crisis Hotline Act would establish a 24/7 national crisis hotline to provide real-time live assistance catered to the unique needs of farmers, ranchers, and their families. It would be staffed by crisis specialists and licensed health care and mental health professionals with knowledge of the agriculture identity who can provide suicide crisis intervention, mental health and substance use disorder support, and agriculture-related referral services.
“New York’s farmers face tremendous stressors: devastating storms, volatile commodity prices, debt, isolation, and the ever-present risk of losing their farms and their livelihoods,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We have to do more to support them. That’s why I’m working to establish a 24/7 mental health hotline tailored to the unique needs of our agricultural workers. This legislation would help save lives in our rural communities and I am determined to get it passed.”
“The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) supports Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to bolster farmer and rancher mental health through the establishment of a national agricultural crisis hotline. Efforts are needed to expand resources and ensure agricultural workers can receive the help that they need. NRHA looks forward to working with Congress to continue providing critical mental health resources to our agriculture communities,” said Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association.
As of now, farmers and other individuals in need of support can call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7, or to connect to a resource line, contact the Farm Aid Farmer Hotline at 1-800-327-6243 on weekdays from 9am-9pm ET.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Rural Health Association.