Meet Mental Health Hero Lily Baucom
Each week of Mental Health Month, we’ll be sharing some Q & A’s from an ag hero working in the field. This week’s spotlight is on Lily Baucom, executive director of the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture and one of the founding members of the Georgia Agricultural Wellness Alliance.
“Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with us, Lily! First I want to ask, what drew you to focus on the mental health of Georgia’s agricultural community?”
Mental health is a critical issue that affects all communities, including the agricultural sector. However, farmers and farmworkers face unique challenges that can impact their mental well-being. The agricultural industry is often characterized by long hours, physical labor, and financial uncertainty, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. COVIC 19 only exacerbated the impact on farmers mental health.
Georgia has a significant agricultural community, and it is important to address the mental health needs of this population. Mental health issues can have a ripple effect on the entire community, affecting not only individuals but also their families and businesses. Moreover, rural areas often have limited access to mental health resources, making it difficult for farmers and their families to receive the care they need. By focusing on the mental health of Georgia's agricultural community, we can help raise awareness about this issue and work towards improving access to resources and support for those who need it.
In summary, the unique challenges faced by farmers and farmworkers in the agricultural industry, coupled with the limited access to mental health resources in rural areas, have drawn attention to the importance of addressing the mental health needs of Georgia's agricultural community.
GFB and GFA have a large statewide network and have the ability to have a huge impact on farmers lives.
Why is it important to focus on farmers?
It is crucial to focus on the mental health of farmers and farmworkers because of their significant contribution to Georgia's economy and overall well-being. According to recent statistics, one in seven people work in agriculture or a related field in the state of Georgia. Agriculture is the backbone of Georgia's economy, with over $73 billion in annual revenue generated from the agricultural industry.
Without the hard work and dedication of farmers, Georgia's economy would suffer greatly. The mental health of farmers and farmworkers directly affects their ability to manage their businesses and maintain productivity, which ultimately impacts the entire industry. Mental health issues can lead to reduced work productivity, increased absenteeism, and a higher risk of workplace accidents.
By focusing on the mental health of farmers and farmworkers, we can help ensure their well-being, which in turn, supports the continued prosperity of Georgia's economy. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize and support the essential work of farmers and farmworkers who provide food and other vital resources to the entire state and beyond.
How can we help people in our community that may be struggling with their mental health?
- Connect with local farming organizations: Many farming organizations offer mental health resources and support for farmers. Reach out to these organizations and encourage the person to connect with them.
- Offer practical support: Help with everyday tasks such as feeding animals, preparing meals, or working in the field. This can help alleviate stress and allow the person to focus on their mental health.
- Reduce stigma: Reduce stigma by speaking openly about mental health and promoting the importance of seeking help. Encourage others in the farming community to do the same. Farmers are private people and it is going to require leaders of ag organization to talk more openly about the ongoing issue.
By taking steps to support those struggling with mental health in the farming community, we can help ensure their well-being and support the continued success of our local agriculture industry.
If you could only choose one mental health tip or piece of advice to share, what would it be?
At this stage it would be to reduce stigma. This is still not openly talked about in the farming community.
What is your favorite way to maintain your own mental health?
Self-care is any activity that promotes physical, emotional, and mental well-being, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
Prioritizing self-care can help reduce stress, boost mood, and improve overall mental health. When we take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to handle the challenges that come our way and more resilient in the face of adversity.
Self-care looks different for everyone, so it's important to find activities that work for you. It can be as simple as taking a walk outside, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Make self-care a regular part of your routine, and don't be afraid to ask for help or support when needed.
Stay tuned for more features on mental health heroes throughout the month of May!