Home News Michigan Ag News MSU Extension Provides Tools to Provide Tools to Identify, Manage Farm Stress

MSU Extension Provides Tools to Provide Tools to Identify, Manage Farm Stress

Photo courtesy: MSU Extension
Photo courtesy: MSU Extension

Whether it’s the weather, commodity prices, yields, livestock or other issues, there’s a lot of factors causing farmers stress.

There are ways to effectively manage these stresses that producers encounter on a daily basis. During MSU Extension’s Farm Stress Webinar, Amy Irish-Brown, MSU Extension Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, says in those stressful periods, family and community members can often provide significant support.

“That’s one good thing about farming is they all stick together, and if somebody is down and out, oftentimes your community will support you—don’t forget that,” said Irish-Brown.

There are a few things to find and use effective coping strategies. Irish-Brown says farmers should identify what they’re currently doing to manage stress and if it is helpful or not.

“Perhaps brainstorm and explore the variety of coping strategies available—focus on using strategies that are most effective and that work for you and your circumstances,” she said. “You don’t need to do this all alone. Perhaps talk with other people and brainstorm, and maybe you’ll come up with some ideas that work well for someone else that you could incorporate into your daily life.”

Insomnia, sleeping too much, no appetite, increased appetite or an increased use of drugs, smoking or alcohol could all be signs of stress. That stress could evolve and cause a person to start considering suicide. Sean Knurek, Shiawassee County Extension health educator, says there are a few warning signs.

“If you notice someone either talking or writing about suicide or death,” he said. “If someone is feeling hopeless, trapped or like a burden. Possibly situations where you give away prized possessions, creating a plan and/or acquiring the means with which to complete suicide. Someone who, almost out of the blue, is saying goodbyes—someone who is increasingly isolated from others.”

Other warning signs of someone considering suicide would be a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed and a mood change. How do you have a conversation with someone you suspect could be suicidal? Knurek said just ask.

“It’s ok to be direct—in fact, asking, ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ does not increase the risk of suicide completion,” he said. It may actually provide the person you’re concerned about with the relief that someone is seeing and identifying their struggle.”


National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)

MSU Extension Teletherapy Pilot Project

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Previous MAT coverage on teletherapy pilot program