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Letter to the Editor: Montana farmers and ranchers should consider using new mental health program

Are you feeling stressed? Depressed? Anxious about the future? As a Montana farmer or rancher, you have a good reason for such feelings. Farming & ranching is a high-stress occupation. Volatile markets, financial risk, unpredictable weather and heavy workloads all create substantial stress on farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners' mental & emotional well-being. The current, prolonged rural economic downturn is exacerbated by "trade wars" and tariffs. 2018 net farm income was 50% less than in 2013.

Additionally, Montana has only 23% of the mental health professionals needed for 1 million people and most serve urban areas.

But help may be as close as your computer, tablet, or smartphone. A new, free, confidential, web-based program, Thrive For Montana, offered by Montana State University's Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery may help. Evidence-based, Thrive has proven successful in helping Montana adults reduce stress, anxiety, depression and suicide risk while increasing work productivity and resilience.

Based upon scientifically proven cognitive behavioral therapy, participants communicate more effectively, think more constructively, and engage in more positive behaviors. Rugged individualists, we farmers and ranchers tend to just "cowboy up" and "git 'er done." Sometimes we all need some help. Thrive For Montana may well be that help!

For more information, go to ThriveForMontana.com or call 406-994-3248.