Farmers' mental health was on the two-day agenda as dozens of professors and social workers met in Atlanta this week. They gathered with professionals from a few other states to discuss the top stressors to people in rural America, especially farmers.
One of the top suggestions made at the conference was viewing farming as a lifestyle and not just an occupation could better help people understand the stress farmers deal with.
"What goes on on a farm is a culture,” Ted Matthews said. “We can't just simply take away that culture."
Matthews spends his time traveling around Minnesota to offer mental health services to farmers and spoke at the conference here.
He said the perception around asking for help has to change.
"In rural America and definitely on a farm, they need to start looking at mental health as just those two words: mental health, not mental illness,” Matthews said.
This discussion is the first step. Next, the University of Georgia agriculture extension plans to train its workers to recognize signs of potential mental health distress.