Mental health a concern for farmers amid ongoing drought

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – In Kansas, more than a quarter of the state remains under the highest severity of drought. Southeast Sedgwick County and conditions in much of southeast Kansas are considered “exceptional drought.”

The ongoing drought is impacting farmers outside of their crop production. Some may be dealing with mental health problems due to the difficult year.

“We’re harvesting some crops but they’re half or les than half of normal. We’re trying to put wheat in the ground. The ground is hard, the ground is dry. The wheat won’t come up until it rains,” said Sedgwick County farmer Brian Wetta.

The impact on farmers’ mental health is compounded by the stress of trying to produce crops with limited help from Mother Nature.

“You know, you try to stay positive and you try to do things that you can control, you know, and improve on those things that you can control. And You try to not think about the things you can’t control, like weather,” Wetta said. “However, it does kind of wear on you, the day-to-day grind.”

The drought comes amid higher input prices due to inflation and supply chain issues. Fellow Sedgwick County farmer Michael Rausch faces these challenges daily but he forges ahead.

“Just keep thinking about the next day that I can make tomorrow better,” he said. “Don’t hash about the past because there is nothing you can do to change it.”

Rausch has a message for those struggling with their mental health.

“Everybody tackles stress a little bit differently but if you’re having issues, you know, you’re not eating right, you’re not sleeping, you know, it’s time to ask for some help,” he said.

Wetta reminded those struggling they’re not alone.

“There is a lot of people that are in the same boat as you. Reach out. That would be my biggest advice is just reach out because there is others that are willing to listen and can help you,” he said.

For farmers dealing with the stress of this season, the state has resources available you can find here: