Soy Help continues to provide mental health resources to farmers

The American Soybean Association and United Soybean Board are helping growers combat farm stress with Soy Help during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Wendy Brannen, senior director of marketing and communications with the American Soybean Association, says the campaign provides tips and resources to help farmers stay healthy.

“The Soy Help campaign is set up to drive people to experts and cover any level of problems they may be experiencing,” she says. “Every year we update all of these resources, and they can be anything related to agriculture-related concerns, situational depression, thoughts of suicide, and finding ways to address whatever those particular issues may be.”

Audio: Wendy Brannen

West Central Illinois farmer Liz Hulsizer lost her father-in-law to suicide during harvest in 2013.

She says the mental health resources from ASA and USB can help address barriers farmers face in rural areas.

“Harvest is even more of a stressor for farm families and then with us being in rural area, getting the proper help is difficult. In some areas, it could take an hour to an hour and a half to get to a qualified person that can help you whether that’s a therapist or a counselor,” she says. “Devoting that time on the road and then the time there is difficult. Farmers are a proud group so asking for help can be difficult and admitting they need help is sometimes hard.”

Audio: Liz Hulsizer

Hulsizer says it’s important to continue to overcome stigmas surrounding mental health.

“The more and more we talk about it, the more people realize they’re not alone in their feelings and that this is something a lot of farmers have. What we do is very high stakes. There’s a lot of risk on the table and it can be overwhelming,” she says. “My husband Matt and I are the fifth generation. For us to get to a point where potentially we could lose the farm because of a drought or input prices being high, it puts a lot more pressure on you. You’re not just losing a job, you’re losing a fifth generation and the generations before you built this farm up and you’re the one who may lose it. It just compounds the stress that goes along with farming. It’s so important during the month of May and all the time to address these issues.”

National mental health resources including crisis centers and suicide hotlines and national and state ag-specific resources for farmers and farm families can be found by searching for #SoyHelp on social media or by visiting

Brannen tells Brownfield they’re hopeful the Soy Help campaign can address mental health stigmas.

“We’re really hoping through the Soy Help campaign that we can address those stigmas and make it okay to talk about these things because it’s so important,” she says. “As anyone who has ever worked in the agriculture industry knows, farmers do experience so many stressors on a day-to-day level. Farmer stress levels are already high regardless and then you layer in things like the pandemic and supply chain issues and their stress levels can really be elevated through the roof. It’s important to let them know there are resources available for help, that people do care, and there are ways to start those conversations and there shouldn’t be stigmas that are tied to those conversations.”

Hulsizer says the campaign makes them feel seen and heard.

“For an organization like the American Soybean Association, which spans soy-producing states across the country and deals with national and international issues, to come in and say mental health also needs to be highlighted and discussed it makes us feel seen and heard,” she says. “…For ASA and USB to take this up and realize that not only is sustainability important when it comes to the ground that we farm, but sustainability within the farmers themselves and making sure they’re sustainable to continue farming is so important for our future. I commend them and thank them for taking this up and realizing the future is in us, the farmer.”

The Soy Help campaign is a joint initiative started by concerned national and state soy groups in May 2020. An American Soybean Association COVID-19 Task Force conducted a survey and found that stress was an overwhelming answer reported by farmer respondents.

Also included in the resources are self-assessments, professional services, and local health care facilities; hotlines for urgent needs; warmlines for helpful advice, chat and text lines for instant access; and articles on symptoms, solutions, and tips for starting uncomfortable but health discussions.

Click here and here for additional resources.

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