According to Farmworker Justice, an estimated 2.4 million agriculture workers work on farms and ranches in the United States. The majority of them are immigrants. Based on the most recent report of the Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey, “foreign-born workers make up 75% of the workforce.”
Although hardworking and honest farmworkers handpick almost every fruit and vegetable we put on our tables daily, they and their families deal with a high poverty level. Earning the average hourly wage of $10.60, farmworkers have little to no employment benefits. Women often deal with sexual harassment, their long shifts take a toll on their bodies, plus they worry about how they are going meet deadlines, pay bills, or their kids’ education, which also impacts their mental health.
Aware of the situation, Eva Longoria Bastón took social media to highlight farmworkers’ labor and invite them to take care of their mental health with a free resource. “It’s time we recognized and truly appreciated the farmworker community, who are often working long hours under harsh conditions,” the actress wrote. “If you or someone you know is a farmworker in Florida or California, please let them know about Healing Voices — a free mental health resource for the community!”
According to the “Healing Voices‘’ project, their unique idea addresses “a critical gap in the farmworker organizing ecosystem – focusing on healing personal and community trauma as a needed step in increasing power for farmworkers to be drivers of change.”
The project is financed by The Workers Lab Innovation Fund and the Collective Future Fund, in partnership with Justice for Migrant Women, the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA), the Eva Longoria Foundation (ELF), and Latinx Therapy.
“The pandemic has created or worsened mental health challenges for people across the country. That includes our farmworkers, who have gone to work in the fields every day - often in unsafe conditions - to ensure the rest of us have food on the table,” said activist Eva Longoria Bastón. “Our work to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being is just one step in addressing the ongoing lack of health and social services available to farmworkers.”
Described as a first-of-its-kind mental health initiative for farmworkers, “Healing Voices” will support “the holistic healing of some of the 2.5 to 3 million US farmworkers who have experienced decades of traumatizing working conditions, economic insecurity, and vulnerability, all of which were exacerbated by COVID-19.”
“Mental health is a health and wellness issue, but it is also a critical workers’ issue that we all must address,” said Mónica Ramírez, Founder and President of Justice for Migrant Women. “This program does just that in addressing a critical gap in the farmworker organizing ecosystem – focusing on healing personal and community trauma as a needed step in increasing power for farmworkers to be advocates and activists. Over and over, we have witnessed the power of storytelling to support healing, teach workers their rights, and inspire change. I am hopeful that the space we are creating digitally can channel that power that comes from embracing mental health and the stories of our community.”
“We joined forces with passionate organizations working with the farmworker community to provide support groups and recruit Spanish-speaking Latinx Therapists as a way to bring community, understanding, and cultural humility to the Healing Voices project through our training and lived experiences as children of immigrants, and our priority is to equip the farmworkers with strategies and tools that can be useful for long-term mental health care,” said Adriana Alejandre, LMFT and Founder and Host of Latinx Therapy.
Farmworkers interest in taking advantage of this free program can call (802) 952-0103.