Farm life can have more than its share of stress, as many of you are well-aware. The current wet weather delays interspersed with equipment break-downs during favorable weather conditions add to that stress and helplessness feeling some farmers may experience today. If you are feeling that stress, please reach out to loved ones, myself, or one of the farm and rural stress sites. Some warning signs of stress according to the Indiana Farm Bureau include:
- Changes in routines: They may stop attending regular meetings or religious activities, drop out of groups, etc.
- Decline in care of domestic animals: Livestock or pets may not be cared for in their usual way.
- Increase in illness: Farmers or farm family members may experience more upper respiratory illness (cold, flu) or other chronic conditions.
- Increase in farm accidents: The risk of farm accidents increases with fatigue of loss of ability to concentrate.
- Decline in appearance of farmstead: The farm family no longer takes pride in the way farm buildings and ground appear.
- Signs of stress in children: Farm children may act out, show a decline in academic performance, or be increasingly absent from school.
- 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.
Please remain cognizant of these signs in working with those in the farm community. If you see any of the above signs or feel that someone could be under excess stress, please try to help them in some manner. Some of the opportunities to assist farmers facing stress concerns include:
- Farm Aid offers a hotline with counselors at 1(800) 327-6243.
- Michigan State University Extension offers an excellent resource available online at: How to Talk to Farmers Under Stress (msu.edu).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800) 273-8255.
- If the situation reaches the life-threatening point, get immediate emergency assistance by dialing 9-1-1.
For those of us working with farmers, MSU Extension recommends that we take time to :
- Practice active listening.
- Show empathy rather than sympathy.
- Be prepared to deal with conflict.
- Recommend resources (above).
Don’t let a friend or loved one become another statistic.