Counselor says managing farm stress has changed

A mental health counselor says dealing with stress on the farm has changed in the past few years.

Jessica Beauchamp from Off the Couch Counseling and Consultation says, “It’s probably always existed. People are just reaching out more now.”

Beauchamp is one of many counselors who work with farmers referred by the Wisconsin Farm Center.  She tells Brownfield that many traditional styles of counseling just don’t work well for farmers. “A lot of times, I will hear feedback from farmers that they’ve been told by another counselor or somebody else ‘work-life balance’ which if you know farming, that’s pretty much impossible so let’s not even go there. Let’s find solutions you can actually do on the farm.”

Beauchamp says minor thought and technique changes can cut down on stress, and talking with a counselor can help. “Sometimes when you’re in the stressor, you have horse blinders on and you cant’ see outside of that. When someone else comes in like a counselor, they don’t have the blinders on because they’re not in your situation, so they hear about it and can pose some options back that maybe you hadn’t thought of or maybe you tried but can try in a different way.”

Beauchamp says many of the issues farmers bring to her involve financial strain and relationships with spouses and kids who are also on the farm.  She says most of her meetings with farmers are right on the farm, and unlike many counselors, she tries to use solutions-oriented approaches just like farmers do.

Many state ag departments have resources to help farmers find counseling and mental health services.

Farmers and family members who would like to discuss their situation can reach out to the Wisconsin Farm Center, which offers free assistance and referrals by calling 1-800-942-2474. The Wisconsin Farm Center can also help refer out-of-state farmers to resources closer to home.

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