Living in a rural community has many benefits such as being surrounded by nature and the satisfaction of growing your own food but the wide-open spaces bring challenges as well.
Limited transportation, lack of resources, and the stress that farming (economically and physically) are very real challenges.
So many factors are out of the farmer’s control: the weather, the price of dairy, grains, vegetables, and other harvested products, and these add to the already stressed farming families and communities and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmers commit suicide at nearly three times the national rate. Drug Overdoses have increased dramatically with the arrival of COVID 19 and the Pause Orders.
What can we do to help out neighbors and address the conditions that devastate the family and our communities?
Remember and share the message that there is both hope and help for those struggling.
Consider participating in the Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties Opioid Taskforce to help our communities address the addiction crisis that we continue to face and work to stop the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders.
Telehealth increases the ability to seek and obtain help for mental health and or substance use issues; rather than driving miles to a site based clinic, the individual can get the needed help from the privacy of his/her own home and at the time that works best for him/her. You can even try Spectrum Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Texting Helpline (585-543-1015) connects you to a trained counselor every night from 7pm to 10pm.
Online and in-person support groups offer additional help when struggling with mental health and or substance use issues, often talking with someone who has been where you are is comforting and offers options that were not considered by the individual.
Checking in on your family, friends, and neighbors is another way to help, make sure they know that you care and are there to listen.
Often times, the individual feels some relief just by sharing their feelings and knowing that they are not alone.
So please consider spending a bit of time checking in and making sure people know that you there are to listen. Not to be corny, I will continue to let people know that I am all ears when they need to talk.
By Julie Gutowski
Sr. Vice President of Admin Ops and Business Development
Spectrum Health and Human Services, and Board Directors, Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Counties Opioid Task Force