Farm life can be demanding and stressful. It’s even tougher now with crop disasters, trade wars, and depressed commodity prices, which weigh heavily on the economy and farmers.
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. And the impact creates a ripple effect in rural communities, affecting lenders, farm business advisors, field representatives, clergy, and others who interact with families in stress.
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 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 meeting, stops attending regular meetings, drops out of groups, or fails to stop at the local coffee shop or elevator.
- Decline in the care of animals: Livestock or pets may not be cared for in the usual way.
- Increase in illness: Farmers or family members may experience more upper respiratory illnesses or other chronic conditions.
- Increase in farm accidents: The risk of farm accidents increases with fatigue or loss of ability to concentrate.
- 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: Farmer or farm families may be less willing to commit to future activities, sign up for gatherings, or show interest in community events.
Five Steps to help those at risk
- Keep them safe.
- Be there.
- Help them connect.
- Follow up.
Know someone who does?
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255. Use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor. It’s available 24/7.