Working together on mental health

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Last month, DATCP highlighted the importance of self-care throughout May Mental Health Month. Mental health is at the heart of our overall health, and ignoring mental health needs can impact our quality of life – in the same way that ignoring a broken leg can impact our ability to sit or walk. walk comfortably. The past few years have added a new and unique stress to everyone’s already full plate.

At DATCP, our team works to ensure that we educate while regulating so consumers can have confidence in their food and fuel, businesses have access to a fair market, and the people we interact with daily feel supported. Since the mid-1980s, thousands of farm families have turned to DATCP’s Wisconsin Farm Center for financial and business counseling, succession planning, veteran farmer assistance and the welfare program. farmers. The Wisconsin Farm Center is just one of the tools DATCP uses to support the people of Wisconsin, but it is crucial.

Since Governor Evers took office, we have built more effective and impactful relationships with community and mental health partners, steadily issued more mental health vouchers to farmers, and seen an increase in the number of mental health vouchers. mental health traded by farmers. The DATCP has also set up a 24/7 Wisconsin Farmer Wellness Hotline for farmers struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety or other problems can get help at any time.

In 2020, the Veterinary Professional Assistance Program (VPAP) was established by the Veterinarian Examining Board (VEB) and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, providing 24/7 confidential services to veterinarians. The VEB covers the costs of the VPAP program and supports veterinarians who may not be able to afford care. Thanks to the work of field staff from VEB, VPAP, Wisconsin Farm Center and DATCP, we are able to support the farming community and those who may need it.

Governor Evers’ recent budget allocated additional funds for the Farmer’s Mental Health Voucher Program at the Wisconsin Farm Center, providing free and discounted counseling sessions to those who otherwise could not access this vital health care. and affirmative. The DATCP has also been fortunate to receive federal funding, including funds from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to help reduce the stigma associated with researching help and increase access to mental health resources. Although our constant work to support those in need is yielding positive results, we cannot stop there.

The Wisconsin Farm Center will continue to serve farmers as long as it has capacity, and state funding will make it much more accessible to farmers of all backgrounds and financial situations. As we enter the state budget session next year, we look forward to continuing to work with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, stakeholders and legislators to support long-term investment in programs. mental health of farmers. Together, we can ensure our communities are welcoming, free of stigma and supportive of those in need.

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, chronic stress, or depression, have them contact the DATCP’s 24/7 Wisconsin Farmer Wellness Helpline at (888) 901-2558 or the VPAP at (866) 440-6556. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.

Randy Romanski is Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Consumer Protection

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