As any farmer or rancher can tell you, farm life can be demanding and stressful. It’s reaching a critical stage with coronavirus impacts on top of trade wars, natural disasters, depressed commodity prices, labor shortages and other factors. Given these ongoing challenges, it’s no surprise that more farmers and farm families are experiencing stress and mental health issues.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental health challenge, you are not alone. Check out the following resources and follow #FarmStateofMind on social media to show your support. A healthy farm or ranch is nothing without a healthy you.
Know the Warning Signs
When loved ones, neighbors or others you care about are experiencing mental health challenges, they may not even realize it. Here’s how you can identify someone who may be at risk.
Change in routines or social activities
Decline in the care of domestic animals
Increase in illness or other chronic conditions
Increase in farm accidents
Decline in appearance of the farmstead
Decreased interest in activities or events
Signs of stress in children including struggles with school
Learn more about recognizing the signs of chronic stress, depression or suicidal intent and what you can do to help at NY FarmNet.
Start the Conversation
Although it may feel like it’s out of your comfort zone, you can start a conversation in any number of ways:
Remind Them of Something They’ve Said and Express Interest
"You mentioned no one seems to understand what you're going through. Sounds pretty lonely, and I want you to know you can talk to me."
— Adrienne DeSutter, Illinois
Farm Bureau Member
Acknowledge What They’re Going Through
"Hey, how have you been handling all of this lately? I know it's been some tough times, can I help in any way?"
— Shelby Watson, Maryland
Farm Bureau Member
Share a habit you’ve seen change. Don’t wait for them to ask for help. If they’re willing to reach out, encourage them. Try not to compare their challenges to someone else’s, or minimize what they’re going through. What matters most is showing genuine care and empathy, and listening.
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Use the online Lifeline Chat
Both resources are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area. For more information, visit the website that provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.
- Text HOME to 741741
The Crisis Text Line provides free support 24 hours a day.
- Call 800-691-4336
Avera’s hotline will connect you with a skilled, compassionate mental health professional who can help you navigate whatever you’re experiencing – such as symptoms or signs of anxiety or depression.
- Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Poll Shows COVID-19 Taking Heavy Toll on Farmers’ Mental Health
A strong majority of farmers/farmworkers say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health, and more than half say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago, according to a new American Farm Bureau poll.
Farm Town Strong – Overcoming the Rural Opioid Epidemic
Mental health issues and substance use disorders sometimes occur together, and they share some underlying causes. Farm Bureau and Farmers Union worked together to bring attention to the opioid epidemic in farm country and provide information and resources to help people struggling with addiction. The Farm Town Strong campaign has had a significant impact in reducing stigma and influencing public opinion about opioid addiction in rural America.
Rural Resilience Training
Recognizing the high levels of stress affecting America’s farmers and ranchers, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union partnered on a program to train individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers, providing them with the skills to:
– Understand the sources of stress
– Identify effective communication strategies
– Reduce stigma related to mental health
– Learn the warning signs of stress and suicide
Additional Resources for Managing Stress, Anxiety or Depression
- CDC Quiz on Mental Health: Take this quiz to see if you can you separate the myths from the facts.
- Managing Farm Stress: Mental health and stress management resources from Michigan State University Extension
- Resilient Farms, Families, Businesses & Communities: Responding to Stress: Resources from University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension on managing stress and using planning tools to make sound decisions
- Managing & Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Farm Stress: A peer-reviewed paper by John Shutske, Ph.D., Professor and Extension Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Podcasts, videos and information on farm and ranch stress from North Dakota State University
- TransFARMation: A radio and podcast series focused on coping with stress, from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Red River Farm Network
For More Information
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