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Farm Stress & Mental Health Resources

Article cover photo
We've collected local resources specifically for Iowa farmers and farm families to navigate temporary stress, ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression, or farm stress due to COVID-19. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

You can’t avoid farm stress, but you can manage it. Whether you need help managing stress or you know someone else who needs support, we've collected resources here to help you find the information or professional you need. 


Need someone to talk to about financial, legal, family or other stress? Know someone who might? The 24/7 Iowa Concern Hotline (1-800-447-1985) is free of charge and confidential. It was created in the 1980s to help producers through the farm crisis but now offers a wide range of services, including language interpretation. Dial 711 for TTY/TDD.


Farmer Experiences

"It’s just like an illness," says Minnesota soybean farmer Bob Worth. "Like the flu or anything else. There are tools out there to help. The main thing is you have to talk about it; otherwise, things will escalate. There's no shame in getting the help you need."

Read more about Bob's experience.

"How should we respond, not only to our own stress, but to the stress being felt by those around us?" asks South Dakota soybean farmer Brandon Wipf. "How can we be anchors for our communities in these tough times, even as we ourselves are badly impacted by what is happening? Here are some tips that work for me."

Read more about Brandon's experience.

"It has been over three years since the day that Keith died by his own hand," says says Minnesota soybean farmer Theresia Gillie. "The day he died by suicide. So many people want my farm to succeed even though Keith is gone; I have gotten and continue to feel love from near and far every day. I would like to share what it has been like for me these three years and how I am doing now."

Learn more about Theresia's experience.


Did you know? Individuals engaged in agriculture are more prone than the general population to react strongly to perceived threats — and anything that endangers a farmer's economic well-being and capacity to continue farming is usually perceived as a threat and causes added stress. Learn about better managing your stress from Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa psychologist and farmer here.


Sometimes, it's the little things. During busy seasons, long hours in the tractor or truck are unavoidable, which can leave you feeling uncomfortable and irritable. Try these six stretches from Alison Hartman, Physical Therapist with Pro-Activity, to stretch out the stress and fuel your safe and productive harvest season here.


PODCASTS

Iowa Farm Bureau put together a 3-part Spokesman Speaks podcast series on managing farm stress in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, featuring Dr. Larry Tranel (a pastoral psychologist who has spent more than 30 years working with farm families).

  • Part 1: Identifying unhealthy stress and how to manage it (released May 8)
  • Part 2: Making effective business decisions and communicating, despite stress (to be released May 13)
  • Part 3: Managing stress as a family (to be released May 18)

Farmer, Pharmacist and Podcaster
Jason Medows didn’t set out to be a podcaster. He just liked to listen to them. A pharmacist and a farmer, he took a special interest when his favorite agricultural podcasts discussed mental health, but those episodes were few and far between. So, he decided he would try recording his own podcast. “I’ll just do ten episodes and then see what happens.”  

Episode 21 of The Ag State of Mind dropped. It turns out, there were plenty of people that wanted to listen. “I’ve been surprised by the interest. Every time I talk to someone, they refer me to two more people to talk to.” The Ag State of Mind is focused on combating the mental health crisis in agriculture delving into hard to talk about topics such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. 

Learn more & listen here.


More resources:

Know of a resource that should be on this list? Let us know at communications@iasoybeans.com so your fellow farmers and rural Iowans can benefit from it.

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For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.