Stressed and Farming – Resources for Help

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One does not have to search long to find the word Stress in the news, social media feeds, and general conversation. But this makes sense, right? Given the increased pressures from the pandemic, whether that is physical, mental, or financial. Our work-life balance is out of whack and our social support structures have shifted. I do not know about you, but I miss the days of chatting with friends over good food and beverages at my local brew-pub.

What may not be so obvious is the potential for increased stress among farmers. The farmers I know, including my parents, are a tough bunch. They have been through tough times, and know how to ‘get going, when the going gets tough’. This tough mindset makes it all too easy to ignore the most important factor in managing stress; taking care of oneself. The statistics don’t lie. Increases in stress and mental health issues in the farming community are real. The way to change this is through awareness and action.

Everyone experiences stress, farmers are no exception. Below are a few basic strategies for managing stress in the short term, and resources specific to farmers.

Simple coping strategies:

  • Don’t bury the stress, seek out a farmer-to-farmer connection or professional help.
  • Take care of your physical health; proper sleep, diet and exercise can improve stress levels.
  • Find or create an informal group to meet and support one another.

In Crisis? Dial 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Get connected to skilled and trained professionals 24/7.

Within North Carolina

The following resources from N.C. Cooperative Extension and NC Agromedicine Institute are available to provide farmers, farm families, and farm employees with help for farm-related stress. These programs and resources are made possible through continuing support of Farm Credit and the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

Farmer to Farmer:  This peer support resource pairs those seeking help with a specially trained farmer or farm family member knowledgeable in farm stress response. Reach out to Dr. Robin Tutor-Marcom at (252) 744-1008/(919) 880-4225 or tutorr@ecu.edu for more information.

Farm Stress Resources DirectoryMultiple sources of information for in-person, phone, and mobile counseling and mental health service across North Carolina as well as web-based articles and helpful tools for dealing with day-to-day stress.

Watch and listen: Conversations with fellow farmers including Commissioner Steve Troxler, N.C. Cooperative Extension Director Rich Bonnano, and N.C. Agromedicine Institute Associate Director LaMar Grafft.

Nationally

Managing Stress on the Farm

Want to read more? Here is a great publication by Randy Weigel of University Wyoming Cooperative Extension that explores the personal challenges and barriers farmers and their families face to seeking help.