AMES, Iowa – Families who make a living on farms are often exposed to situations beyond their control, which leaves them feeling exhaustion and distress. At any time, volatile prices, weather conditions, crop or livestock diseases, or equipment and communication failures can make life on the farm difficult to manage.

“May (was) mental health awareness month,” said Tim Christensen, farm management specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Stress on the farm can certainly affect mental health and it’s okay to recognize the stress you might be facing.”

On-farm stress exacerbates already difficult decision-making on the farm, as high levels of prolonged or acute stress inhibit focus, planning, math, and many skills necessary for profitable farm management and operation. healthy farm family, noted Christensen.

“When you experience high levels of stress, be aware of the following symptoms – shallow breathing, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, loss of memory and concentration – to name a few,” added Larry Tranel, specialist in Extension dairy products.

Stressed people often feel that they don’t have time to do the things most necessary to deal with stress – deep, relaxed breathing; adequate exercise and healthy diet; meaningful relationships; and using higher reasoning to overcome negative and protective emotions often exhibited during distress, Tranel explained.

“During this mental health awareness month and throughout the year, be aware of your own mental health needs and the needs of those around you,” Christensen said.

“We can all make a difference by looking out for each other. You never know when a friend, family member, neighbor or community member may need help, ”Tranel said.

If you want to be better prepared to help someone in need, ISU Extension and Outreach offers two options.

  • “Question.Persuade.Refer” is a one-hour virtual class that teaches participants how to recognize the warning signs of a suicidal crisis and how to question, persuade and recommend someone for help. For more information or to register, visit
  • “Mental health first aid” is a six-hour virtual course with an additional two-hour self-study pre-course. This training, which is more in-depth, equips participants with the skills they need to reach out and provide support to someone who may be developing a mental health or addiction problem and help them connect them with others. appropriate resources. For more information or to register, visit

Both courses are available to anyone who wants to make a difference in their community. For more information, contact Christensen at [email protected] or Tranel at [email protected]

More resources

  • Iowa concern: This program, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and a lawyer for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities, and a website, Iowa Concern’s services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or visit the website,, to chat live with a one-to-one stress counselor in a secure environment. Or send an email to an expert regarding legal, financial, stress or crisis and disaster issues.
  • This program, offered by the North Central Farm and Ranch Support Center, shares available resources and research in one convenient, easy-to-access location. The website lists resources by state, including Iowa, and by topic, including crisis numbers, hotlines, and training resources. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. People in crisis should visit their local emergency department or call 911 immediately.