COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missourians in crisis can take advantage of a free 24-hour hotline for stress counseling as well as information and referrals on legal, financial, crisis/disaster and personal health topics. Individuals can seek help by phone or live online chat.
Through the Farmers and Ranchers Stress Alliance Network (FRSAN), the Iowa Concern Hotline is available to residents of 12 north-central U.S. states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Call 800-447-1985 or go to extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern. Individuals can also email experts questions related to finance, legal issues, stress, and crisis and disaster. Calls, chats and emails are confidential. Language interpretation services are available.
FRSAN is funded by a grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA).
“Midwest farmers and ranchers face unprecedented stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and weather-related concerns,” said Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist.
Mental health experts predict an increase in deaths by suicide due to the social isolation, economic stress and related factors, Funkenbusch said. “Farmers, because of their strong and independent nature, often are reluctant to talk about these issues.”
Funkenbusch says friends, coworkers and family members should be aware of warning signs of suicidal tendencies:
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Anxious, agitated or reckless behavior.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
What to do if you see these signs:
• Do not leave the person alone.
• Remove firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
• Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
• Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
MU has resources to assist farmers, ranchers and their family members who may be struggling during harvest, Funkenbusch said. Visit Show Me Strong Families at facebook.com/ShowMeStrongFarmFamilies. The program is supported by a grant from USDA NIFA.
• “Growing Stress on the Farm: The Expanding Economic and Mental Health Disparities in Rural Missouri,” bit.ly/GrowingStressOnTheFarm.
• The Missouri AgrAbility Project, AgrAbility.missouri.edu, helps farmers with disabilities succeed through on-site assessments, recommendations, networking, education and referrals.
• Missouri Department of Mental Health, dmh.mo.gov.
• National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org.
• Iowa Concern Hotline downloadable flyer: extension.missouri.edu/media/wysiwyg/Extensiondata/NewsAdmin/Photos/2020/20201102-ic-3.pdf.