By: Melanie Forti, Programs Director
Mental health is an important element of everyone’s health. Having an imbalanced mental health can affect our moods, daily routines, and work productivity. A common mental health is stress: in other words, stress is how our bodies respond to environmental and situational change we are surrounded with. Unfortunately, migrant and seasonal farmworkers face stress related to working conditions, cultural barriers, as well as being away from home and family.
Stress has been linked to a variety of physical and mental illnesses, such as headaches, depression, cancer, insomnia, skin disease, cardiovascular disease, under active immune system, and can worsen pre-existing conditions. Stress alters our body hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. As a result it may cause a weakened immune system which can make us more susceptible to common colds and others health issues.
According to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), “Persons living with mental illness have a higher mortality rate and often die prematurely…” Stress is a silent killer.
Commonly, concern over mental health has had a bad stigma and been referred to in a negative way. It has also been erroneously associated with “being crazy”. Many use denial as a defense mechanism in order to avoid judgment and falling into stereotypes. Denial of having a mental health problem is very harmful and it may lead to unhealthy behaviors such as addictions, impulsive risk-taking etc.
However, studying and treating mental health in rural areas can be challenging.
A significant number of Latinos living in rural areas are farmworkers. Farmworkers are particularly more at risk of suffering stress due to daily stress producers; such as discrimination, job instability, access to food and health care, legal status, language barriers, and back-breaking labor. Economic disadvantage and social isolation are additional stress factors that affect farmworkers.
Receiving the proper treatment will help cope with stress, work productivity, and daily activities like decision making. Many farmworkers have little to no access to health care. In addition, they cannot afford to pay for their basic needs, so imagine the added factor of having to pay a lot of money in order receive the needed mental health treatment.
Thankfully, there are community health centers and migrant clinics that can help provide the proper services and treatment needed. To find where you can get stress or depression screening, please click here.
Taking care of one’s mental health is as important as taking care of your body. Making healthy choices will improve your overall health. Here are some tips on how to deal with stress:
- Getting good rest at night
- Eating healthy, and don’t skip meals
- Drink a lot of water, avoid caffeinated drinks
- Be more active by making exercise o practicing a sport
- Search/ask for help. Talk to a friend about your problems, don’t hold it in.
- See a doctor if stress is starting to affect your health.
Creating awareness about mental health is very important. In doing so, it can break down stigmas and help to improve the chance of recovery among our nation’s farmworkers.