May 3, 2023 - Reedsburg, WI - Farmer Angel Network board members were honored to meet with Governor Tony Evers, Secretary Randy Romanski, other leaders at the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and several partners to kickoff Mental Health Awareness Month today.
Governor Evers opening remarks explained how he proclaimed 2023 the Year of Mental Health. He referenced that 1 in 5 adults has a mental health diagnosis, and it takes an average of 11 years from first symptoms to adequate treatment of mental health. He compared this to his own cancer diagnosis and how he wouldn't be here if he hadn't been diagnosed and received treatment. We need to treat mental health the same way, be able to speak to it openly and seek effective treatment. Governor Evers explained the efforts he is taking to ensure funding for needed mental health resources. He then asked the group what we need from him to continue to support mental health needs in rural and farming communities.
Farmer Angel Network and key partners including the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Farm Well Wisconsin, and UW-Extension shared the resources they have available for farmer, farm worker and farm family mental health and wellness, and the challenges they are facing. Dan Bauer, Wisconsin Farm Center Program Supervisor, announced plans for expanding Farm Center locations and consultants to northeast and northwest Wisconsin.
Farmer Angel Network board members shared what they find as needs for farmers including additional funding and support for programs that:
Train community members, first responders, and healthcare providers to identify risk factors of and prevent suicide
Help lessen stressors of farmers including financial sustainability
Improve availability and access to behavioral health providers
Train clinicians to provide care appropriate and effective for farmers and their families
Farmer Angel Network's work includes advocating for resources and funding to meet the mental health needs of our farming and rural communities. We on the board express our sincere appreciation to the Governor and State leaders for taking time to meet with us and listen to our input.
First picture below shows Farmer Angel Network board members in attendance with Governor Evers. Pictured L to R: Christy Wehler, Don Harms, Dorothy Harms, Governor Tony Evers, Sandy Kracht, Brenda Statz, Vicky Meinholz, Randy Roecker, and Sue Sharp.