Our farm and ranch families are currently struggling with high levels of stress. Financial challenges create a unique stress for farmers and their families because of the close relationship between farming and families. Farm families manage their stress successfully by engaging in effective management strategies.
Recognizing symptoms of stress is the first step. Some examples include identifying the stressors, preparing and planning, getting support, and seeking appropriate help as needed. Following are resources to help farmers and their families to recognize and cope with their stress effectively.
Farm Family Stressors: Private Problems - Public Issue by Bonnie Braun, Ph.D., University of Maryland Extension
Practical tips and resources to help increase productivity and manage stress - By Michigan State University Extension
Farm Stress & Decision-Making During Challenging Times - By John Shutske, Professor and Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Specialist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Farming and Ranching in Tough Times - By Sean Brotherson, Ph.D. Family Science Specialist North Dakota State University
A Five-Step Approach to Alleviating Farm Stress - By Andrea Bjornestad, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Mental Health Specialist
Assessing Farm Stress - Video By Michigan State University Extension
Financial worries and concerns can be overwhelming, leading to strong emotional reactions such as anger, anxiety and depression. There are resources to help individuals and families recognize feelings, communicate with families and others, evaluate the situation, and get help when experiencing a financial crisis.
Accepting Your Feelings
This article explains how to sort, recognize and understand your feelings and shows the steps to accept your feelings.
Coping with Stress
Identify when you exhibit stress symptoms and apply relaxation techniques. Seek help when needed.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Engage family members including children in talking and sharing information.
Helping Friends Cope with Financial Crisis
Understanding how to reach out to a friend or family member experiencing a financial crisis can help you assist them during their time of need. Knowing what resources are available can prepare you to help. And being aware of signs of depression can alert you to their need for professional help.
Depression, Mental Health Resources, and Suicide Prevention
Stress are associated with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Recent studies found that farmers and ranchers report higher levels of substance abuse and suicide rates than the general population. Find out warning signs. If you are concerned about yourself or others, talk to someone, seek help, and call the National Suicide Prevention hotline or 9-1-1.
Farm and Ranch Family Stress and Depression: A Checklist and Guide for Making Referrals - By Robert J. Fetsch, Colorado State University and Roger T. Williams, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Mental Health and the Impact on Wellness for Farm Families - AgriSafe Network, Protecting People Who Feed America.
Preventing Farm-related Stress, Depression, Substance Abuse, and Suicide - By Rebekka M. Dudensing, Samuel D. Towne, and Carly E. McCord
Agricultural Producers & Stress: When Do you Need a Counselor? - By University of Wyoming
The Personal Nature of Agriculture Men Seeking Help - by Randy R. Weigel, Extension Specialist, University of Wyoming
Suicide by Farmers Continues to be an Unresolved Problem - by By Dr. Mike Rosmann
Extension Educator Resources
The Stalwart Family Case Study - This multi-year, multi-generational case study offers insights into some typical stressors that are unique to farm families and their businesses. There is a short reflection tool that can help educators engage learners in exploring these unique characteristics and the resilience of farm families.