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Supporting farmer mental health

Supporting farmer mental health

Industry organizations helped launch a free online stress management course

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A new online stress management course is available to American farmers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and Farm Credit have worked together with the USDA’s Cooperative Extension System, Michigan State University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Montana State University and South Dakota State University to create the course, titled Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training.

The three-unit program will focus on topics like stress management and learning the signs and symptoms of stress, identifying techniques to help communicate with other farmers who may be stressed, and providing initial assistance to someone who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts.

“The goal is for participants to identify signs and symptoms of stress and suicide, reduce the (misconception) of needing help, and connect farmers and ranchers with resources that might be able to help,” Courtney Cuthbertson, an assistant professor and extension specialist in the department of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. “There’s a lack of mental health care in rural communities, and this is a way to train people to be a resource and help someone recognize and navigate stressful times.”

Farm groups are pleased to help provide these tools for producers.

The global pandemic paired with other annual challenges farmers face has made 2020 a challenging year.

“Farm families across the country already faced low prices, disastrous weather, uncertain trade prospects, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of Farm Credit Council, said in a statement. “It’s a heavy load to carry. We hope farmers and their families and others in rural communities that are feeling stressed will take this free training and use the tools provided to get help coping with this unprecedented situation.”

Registration for the free course opened on June 15. Producers who sign up will have until June 14, 2021 to complete the materials.

As of the morning of June 23, 2,441 spots were available for the online course.

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