MU Extension offers services to help farm families with mental health

Farmers tend to put their families and farm before themselves, but neither can operate unless farmers take care of themselves physically and mentally, said Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 19 to 25, Funkenbusch reminds farm and ranch families that MU Extension offers free resources to help them survive the stress of drought, pests, labor shortages, the pandemic and other issues.

“We know this is a trying time for many,” Funkenbusch said. “Things don’t always go as planned during harvest, and farmers can find themselves worrying about a lot of things. Their mental health should not be one of them.”

Funkenbusch offers tips to help farmers during harvest:

• Tune in to your body. Pay attention to signs of stress and respond accordingly. Seek prompt medical attention as needed.

• Take a break. Climb down from the tractor or combine and take a short break.

• Eat correctly and get eight hours of sleep. Feed your body and soul so that you operate safely.

• Do a mental tune-up by making time even during busy days to do something that you enjoy.

MU Extension, through a North Central Region Farm and Ranch Alliance Network federal grant, is part of the Iowa Concern group, which provides stress counselors, an attorney for legal education, information and referral services for farm families. The toll-free number is (800) 447-1985.

Another service is Missouri 211, a free referral and informational helpline with 24-hour services.

"Simply pick up the phone and dial 2-1-1," said Funkenbusch.

The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also provides free, confidential service. To use the hotline, call (800) 273-TALK (8255).

For other MU Extension and Show-Me Farm Safety Mental Health Toolkit resources, visit muext.us/MentalHealthToolkit.

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