Farm Stress and Mental Health

The Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center team is dedicated to addressing rural mental health. However, they also recognize that the agricultural community encounter unique challenges related to the accessibility, availability, and acceptability of mental health services. In response, specific trainings and resources have been developed to address mental health and suicide among agricultural workers and their families. For clarity, unless otherwise specified, “farm” and “farmer” refer to ranchers, farmers, farm managers/owners, and agricultural workers.

 

Mountain Plains MHTTC Trainings and Resources

Compassion Fatigue: Farm Stress and the Mental Health Provider

January 6, 2020
Robin Landwehr, LPCC, discussed burnout prevention strategies for mental health providers working with farm and ranch populations. This session focused on the unique challenges and stressors faced by the individuals who work to support persons experiencing farm stress. Robin also discussed ways for providers to increase compassion satisfaction, minimize compassion fatigue, and prevent the onset of burnout related to mental health work.


Hands-on Tools and Strategies to Assist Providers Working with Farmers

December 16, 2019
Meg Moynihan, from Eyes on the Horizon Consulting, and Monica McConkey, from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, provided an overview on the tools and strategies they utilize every day to address the mental health needs of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers. This session highlighted specific examples of resources available to support farmers experiencing stress and mental health challenges, as well as a discussion on the best practices for providers working with this population.


Introduction to Farm Stress: Mental Health Needs among Diverse Farm Populations

November 25, 2019
In this one-hour webinar, presenters spoke to the definition of farm stress, contributing factors, the impact of farm stress on the family, and how farming demographics and associated stress may vary by U.S. region. This session introduced resources that currently exist for farmers addressing stress and suicide risk, as well as presented ongoing gaps and barriers to utilizing mental health services in agricultural communities.


The Economics of Farm Stress

December 9, 2019
Dr. David Flynn, Professor of Economics, provided an overview of the economic landscape that affects farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers in the United States. This session highlighted the challenges faced by producers in adapting to uncertain commodities pricing, the long and short term impacts of tariffs, and the financial pressures caused by uncertain crop yields and changing weather.



Additional Farm Stress and Mental Health Resources

There are several resources available that provide summaries of agricultural mental health concerns, up-to-date data visualizations, and toolkits for addressing barriers to mental health services for farmers, farm managers/owners, ranchers, agricultural workers and their families. Some of these resources include:

 

Information and Data on Farm Stress and Mental Health

The Census of Agriculture (2017)
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The survey is conducted once every five years and looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, and income and expenditures.

Data on Farm Suicide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This website and the associated online resources provide recent data on suicide rates among various professions to include farmers, ranchers, and other occupational managers as well agricultural workers.

Migrant Workers in the U.S.: Harvesting Food, Building Healthy Communities
This 15-minute video is a product of the University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare. The school is engaging migratory and seasonal agricultural workers and providers who work with them to learn more about their perspectives on accessing healthcare, the barriers, facilitators, and motivators to healthcare access. Listen to them sharing more about their roles and lives in their own voice.

Migratory and Seasonal Agricultural Workers and Health Research
Health disparities affect the Latino population, including the 75% of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers (MSAWs) born outside of the United States. Involving them in the research process can lead to more reliable and valid research findings in areas important to them. Significant gaps in conducting patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) exist. This program’s solution is to connect existing networks; increase researchers’ and other key stakeholders’ knowledge of PCOR; and utilize various forums to discuss ideas, share results, and build partnerships for conducting PCOR. Work with MSAWs will occur in the Midwest. Researchers, providers, and funders will be engaged across the United States.

Preventing Farmer Suicide: Collaboration and Communication
Farmers face a multitude of unique stressors, such as difficult economic conditions and extreme weather. These challenges have led to a recent increase in the number of farmers taking their own lives. Experts discuss warning signs of suicide and how communities can help farmers and their families address mental health concerns. This video was developed by the Rural Health Information Hub.

Rural Response to Farmer Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
This issue guide, provided by the Rural Health Information Hub, discusses the rising mental health crisis in farming communities and provides information on organizations and model programs that are addressing the challenges and mental health needs of this population.

Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit
This new toolkit compiles evidence-based models and resources to support organizations employing suicide prevention programs in rural communities. Learn how to implement, evaluate, and sustain suicide prevention programs in your community. This toolkit is housed with the Rural Health Information Hub and created in partnership with the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis.

Who and How: Exploring the Preferred Senders and Channels of Mental Health Information for Wisconsin Farmers
This open access article, published October 2019 in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health presents the findings of a study exploring how best to share information with farmers on the topic of mental health, and who they think should be sharing this information with them.

 

Direct Resources and Support for Farmers

AgriSafe Network
AgriSafe is a national nonprofit membership organization that represents health professionals and educators who strive to reduce health disparities (including mental health disparities) among the agricultural community. The website provides several resources, trainings, and health curriculum.

Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline
Avera Health System, located in South Dakota, offers the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline where farmers can talk to one of Avera’s skilled, compassionate mental health professionals and trust them to help navigate whatever they are experiencing, to include symptoms or signs of anxiety or depression. The hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 at 1-800-691-4336.

Dealing with Stress Workshop: Free, Web-based Series
The University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development offers a free web-based series addressing stress and providing tools to manage the effects of stress among those in agriculture. Each workshop takes between 15-25 minutes to complete and builds on concepts addressed in the previous workshops.

Farm Aid
Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on the land. Through the 1-800-FARM-AID hotline and email service, Farm Aid’s in-house farm advocate refers farmers to an extensive network of family farm and rural support organizations across the country.

Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN)
The purpose of the FRSAN Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, is to develop a network that connects individuals who are engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs.

Farm Crisis Center
Provided through the National Farmers Union, the Farm Crisis Center is a directory of national and local resources to help farmers through stressful times.

The Farmer Mental Health Crisis: Understanding a Vulnerable Populations
This is a one hour webinar from 2019, provided by the American Psychological Association and Farm Aid. The webinar addresses farmer’s unique stressors, how psychologists can help, and ways to connect with the community.

National Farmers Union (NFU)
NFU believes that good opportunities in production agriculture are the foundation of strong farm and ranch families, and strong farm and ranch families are the basis for thriving rural communities. NFU provides a variety of educational opportunities for youth and adults at the local, state, and national levels.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for individuals, and best practices for professionals. The suicide hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
RAFI-USA believes in order to ensure a safe, adequate supply of healthy food, we must protect farm workers and encourage environmentally sound farming. RAFI provides an array of resources on their website, as well as a hotline and specific list of resources related to disaster recovery.

 

United States Department of Agriculture’s Extension Offices

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds state and county extension offices. These offices provide local resources on managing the financial and emotional stressors of farming, among many other topics. The state extension offices in the region primarily served by the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center include:

 

Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience: A Guide for Extension Educational Programming
University of Cooperative Delaware Extension and the University of Maryland Extension have developed a guide for educators focused on programming to reduce risk and increase resilience for farms and farm families. This report includes a risk and resilience framework, logic models for programming with three different audiences, tools for assessment and teaching, and teaching resources. This is part of the Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience Toolkit. Additional links provided through this program include:

 

If you have other materials or trainings you would like the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center to add to this resource page, please contact Dr. Shawnda Schroeder at shawnda.schroeder@und.edu.