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Rural Resilience

Credit: iStockPhoto 

As any farmer or rancher can tell you, farm life can be demanding and stressful. It’s even tougher now with trade wars, natural disasters, depressed commodity prices, labor shortages and many other issues weighing heavily on the farm economy. Given these challenges, more and more farmers today are experiencing stress and mental health issues, either directly or by having a friend or family member in distress. No one is immune, as AFBF President Zippy Duvall pointed out in a recent Zipline column. And the impact creates a ripple effect in rural communities, affecting lenders, farm business advisors, field representatives, clergy, teachers and others who interact with families in stress.  

Rural Health Information Hub has released a video that looks at the stressors farmers face, including difficult economic conditions and extreme weather. Experts discuss warning signs of suicide and how communities can help farmers and their families address mental health concerns.

Throughout Farm Bureau’s history, we’ve always looked out for our members’ best interests and have worked hard to help. In keeping with that tradition, here are some resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with stress in their communities, their families and their personal lives. 


Warning Signs of Stress

When someone is experiencing a mental health challenge, they may not even realize it. Here’s how you can identify someone who may be at risk.

  • Change in routines: Farmers or members of the farm family may change who attends a market, stop attending regular meetings or religious activities, drop out of other groups, or fail to stop at the local coffee shop or feed mill.
  • Decline in the care of domestic animals: Livestock or pets may not be cared for in the usual way.
  • Increase in illness: Farmers or farm family members may experience more upper respiratory illnesses (cold, flu) or other chronic conditions (aches, pains, persistent cough, migraines).
  • Increase in farm accidents: The risk of farm accidents increases with fatigue or loss of ability to concentrate. Children may be at risk if there isn’t alternative child care.
  • Decline in appearance of farmstead: The farm family no longer takes pride in the way farm buildings and grounds appear.
  • Signs of stress in children: Farm children may act out, show a decline in academic performance, or be increasingly absent from school. They may also show signs of physical abuse or neglect, or become depressed.
  • Decreased interest: Farmers or farm families may be less willing to commit to future activities, sign up for gatherings, or show interest in community events.

Source: NY FarmNet


Five Steps to Help Someone at Risk

  1. Ask
  2. Keep them safe
  3. Be there
  4. Help them connect
  5. Follow up

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Need Help? Know Someone Who Does?

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.


AFBF’s Research on Farmer Mental Health

A strong majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing the farm impact farmers’ mental health, according to a national Morning Consult research poll sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.


Farm State of Mind

Visit Acceleron’s Farm State of Mind website and follow #FarmStateofMind on Facebook and Twitter to hear other peoples’ stories and show your support. A healthy farm is nothing without a healthy you.


For More Information

Contact us at ruralresilience@fb.org.

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