Farmers are the unsung heroes of the world. They work tirelessly to provide fresh and healthy produce and other sustainable food sources for the masses, and yet very seldom get the credit they deserve. According to ADAMA, which is a website dedicated to farmers advocacy and education, farmers shape the landscape we live in, heat our homes and are advocates for a brighter and greener future. Yet there is a dark side to farming, one that consists of debt, suicide and a mental health crisis that is sweeping the globe. According to one article,
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people worldwide experience issues with their mental health annually. If farmers experience problems with their mental health at the same rates as the general population, this would mean that approximately 25% of farmers worldwide are struggling with their mental health every year. Globally, there are more than 570 million farms, of which approximately 550 million are family-run. With a conservative estimate of 2-member families, this would mean that every year, roughly 225 million farmers worldwide may struggle with their mental health.
These mental health concerns may be directly linked to issues that farmers face, such as fear of not being able to provide for their families, stress of a bad crop season, or strain from large grocery chains to fulfill ever increasing food demands. Recently, in India, a country where 60% of the population works in agriculture, climate change has affected the yield that low-income rural farmers can produce and has in turn negatively impacted the mental health of these farmers. Threat to property, income and crops has heightened risk of suicide, with one study finding that India averaged 28 suicides a day from the farming community.
Farming is a multi-generational business, with 98% of the farms worldwide owned by families. The risk of losing generational wealth and not being able to provide for future generations puts undue stress on the entire family unit. The loss of the head of the family from suicide or old age also places the burden directly on the family to provide.
Despite this bleak outlook, there is hope in the form of the Apportis tele-behavioral health platform. This platform enables case managers to provide assistance to farmers and their families with mental health concerns. It does not require wifi, an asset that is especially important to those living in rural communities. By being able to quickly and securely meet with a case manager to discuss concerns or goals, these farmers have the ability to get help when and where they need it. Because farmers often do not have the luxury to take time off from work, the Apportis platform reduces barriers to time, transportation and childcare, while providing screen to screen access to helpful case managers.
Additionally, resources can be loaded onto the platform that can be accessed by a farmer in crisis at any time. These may include a variety such as hotline numbers, financial literacy, farmer advocacy, information on farmers with disabilities, and breathing exercises to reduce anxiety.
Farmers help shape the world and their mental health is paramount. Apportis is an advocate for farmer mental health, and you can be too. Start by looking at the links below.
Domestic violence takes on many forms and hides behind many faces. Spousal manipulation, physical abuse at the hands of an ex-partner, or even murder can be results of domestic violence. There are some warning signs, such as a partner being quick to anger or over jealous, but some victims of domestic violence live in silence, unobserved by all except their abusers. Despite the assumption that only men can abuse, and women are always the victims, any gender can be an offender and any gender can be a victim.
The main concern of working with someone living in a domestic violence situation is safety. Safety plans, support groups, safe houses, and money stashed away little by little are all on the back of the mind of those trying to get away from their abusers. Tele-health has recently emerged as an answer to some of these safety concerns, with secure communication to a support worker or case manager that can disappear after it is sent making it a viable option for many in an unsafe situation. Additionally, resources for local shelters, doctors and social service agencies can be loaded into the tele-health platform.
Apportis is a part of this solution, working towards a safer and healthier community for victims of domestic violence. The platform can be used without WIFI, which is a major benefit for those living in domestic violence, as some perpetrators can disconnect the WIFI as a way to cut off their victims from support. There are also resources loaded onto the platform that can be referenced to create a safety plan or learn how to make the first step towards safety. Additionally, with the stigma surrounding victims of domestic violence, having the ability to form a secure HIPAA compliant video connection with a support worker from a safe location is invaluable for those in unsafe situations.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, and as a community we can reach out to those who may feel isolated or alone. Offer help and let those in a domestic violent situation know that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that it is not their fault. If you suspect that someone is a victim of domestic violence, reach out to a local support line to know how best to help. We invite you to join hands with Apportis in an effort to create a safer future for those of domestic violence.
In order to discuss the merits of tele-case management, a basic understanding of what case management is must be achieved. As defined by the Commission for Case Management Certification, “Case management is a collaborative process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates the options and services required to meet the client’s health and human service needs. It is characterized by advocacy, communication, and resource management and promotes quality and cost-effective interventions and outcomes.” That is a fancy way of saying that case management connects those who need help to those that can help, and their journey is guided and tracked by a case manager. Case managers are experts in their field, which can range from behavioral health or substance use all the way to law and financial wellness. Case management is most often used in the social services field such as social work and can also be used by medical, financial and employment specialists. Case managers act as a guide and liaison to those they are working with, helping them connect to resources, make goals, and achieve various outcomes.
Tele-case management is the same as traditional case management, with the added bonus of being screen to screen instead of face to face. In times of COVID, this is especially important. But COVID is not the only reason that tele-case management is significant and effective. Barriers to transportation, childcare, time off from work, bad weather, severe mental illness and fear of stigma can all be overcome with a screen to screen approach. Apportis saw this need and quickly integrated a tele case management platform into their already existing software. With the Apporis tele-case management platform, clients can make appointments, access resources and speak to their case manager all in the privacy and comfort of their own home. The HIPAA compliant video connection allows for interaction between case manager and participant in a way that no personal or human touch is lost. It is a faster, more effective way of getting help to those in need. Additionally, the online platform allows case managers to quickly type in notes and recommendations, allowing for better note taking and increased quality of care.
The Apportis tele-case management platform can be configured to work with a large variety of populations. Because no WIFI is needed, case managers can connect with those who may be experiencing homelessness or other situations in which they do not have access to reliable WIFI. Because there is no app to install, case managers can connect with populations who may be uncomfortable with new technology. The Apportis tele-case management platform is a flexible, reliable, easy way for case managers and participants to connect, no matter what the situation or circumstance.
Stigma, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be a disadvantage”, is prevalent in the behavioral health field. Many people face stigma before, during and after their journey to improved behavioral health.
According to the American Psychological Association, “More than half of people with mental illness don’t seek help for their disorders. Often, people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or fears of losing their jobs and livelihood. That’s because stigma, prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness is still very much a problem.” Additionally, stigma does not only keep many people from ever reaching out for help with their behavioral health, but it can also slow or even reverse the progress that those who do reach out for help have made. People may become embarrassed if their situation with behavioral health becomes known, and it may cause them to stop seeking help from a specialist. Others may not keep up their behavioral health routine of self-care for fear it will make them stand out or be ridiculed.
Stigma for behavioral health is all around us, from the medias portrayal to decreased federal funding for research and development of cures. Stigma can be found in the workplace, at school, within friend groups or even families. Although the problem seems pervasive, there is hope.
Apportis eliminates the feeling of anxiety that someone may see you walking into a behavioral health clinic and the need to ask for time off of work to see a specialist, something many were hesitant to do as they believed it may lead to their boss thinking differently of them. The Apportis platform brings behavioral health to you, with a secure and HIPAA compliant video connection to a case manager or other behavioral health specialist. The platform is loaded with resources that can be browsed from the comfort of your own home. Apportis is an intuitive platform that does not need WIFI, so those of all ages, skill levels, and circumstances can benefit from the extra layer of privacy that Apportis adds to your behavioral health journey. It also eliminates barriers to transportation, childcare, bad weather and even COVID. The main thing Apportis does, however, is allow you to pursue health without the fear of stigma.
Coming from a family of social service providers, I have been exposed to people in crisis my whole life, many of whom were embarrassed to ask for help because stigma is still so prevalent in our society. Looking back, there are many instances I can recall which the Apportis platform would have been invaluable for these people, allowing them to pursue behavioral health care from the comfort, safety and privacy of their own home. Never be embarrassed to ask for help, as it is a sign of strength rather than a weakness. Reach out and see what Apportis can do for you on your path to health.
Author: Page Jennings
Saturday, November 21st is not only the Saturday before Turkey Day. It is also a day to observe and support international survivors of suicide. Sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Survivors Day is a time to give support to those who have lost a friend or family member to this horrific tragedy globally.
Although the stigma surrounding suicide differs slightly around the world based on culture and religion (for example Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are against it, while the Brahmans of India tolerate it), the sadness left behind by those who loved the person who lost their life to suicide is the same. The holidays are an especially hard time for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, and Survivors Day is a way to bring peace around the world to those struggling with this reality.
How can we be involved? According to National Today, there are three things we can do to observe Survivors Day. It is important to remember you can participate even if you have not lost someone to suicide. Being involved and active in this community lends your strength and support and allows you to be more empathetic and understanding.
Attend a Survivors Day event
- UHS offers Survivors Day events that allow you to find share in the messages of healing and hope. Some of these events screen movies and documentaries about coping with suicide after a shared loss. They depict all of the difficult stages including denial, isolation, grief, and the ways in which you can heal from the pain. If you aren’t able to go in person, you can view the program online here.
Write it out
- Art is a great way to express yourself when times get difficult. Grab a journal or use your computer to write down your thoughts. This can be in the form of a poem, a story, or just a journal entry. By expressing yourself, you can come to understand your feelings and where they’re coming from. Turning something difficult into something that’s true and beautiful can also make you feel like you have more control over it.
Attend a local grief support group
- It can be scary telling your own story to a group of people, but support groups offer safe spaces for you to meet with others who have been affected by suicide. It’s a place of understanding as individuals grapple with the hardships of living with it. You’ll have the benefit of speaking with and hearing from professionals with the capacity to help you get through your own battle.
In addition to these suggestions, having a conversation with someone any day of the year about suicide can be powerful. Whether it is someone who you suspect may be having suicidal thoughts or someone who has lost someone to suicide, do not be afraid to reach out. Often, just starting the conversation is the hardest part and will get easier as the conversation continues. If you are still not sure how to begin, check out this website for more ideas.
To end with, five sobering facts about global suicide
- Global suicides: Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.
- Close to home: Nearly 50% of people in the US know someone who has died by suicide.
- LGBT community: LGBT youth are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide.
- Every 11 minutes: On average, one person dies every 11 minutes by suicide.
- Highest suicide rate: Guyana has the most deaths by suicide.
By observing and supporting our brothers and sisters around the world who have lost friends and family members to suicide, we give a voice to their grief. We also honor and remember the victims this way, and allow for meaningful connections to be made. We really are all in this together. Wherever you are in the world or on your journey, be kind to others and to yourself.