ARLINGTON, VA -- In recent years, the medical and scientific communities have come to recognize that farming is one of the most high-stress vocations in the country, with suicide rates alarmingly higher than most other industries. A new online course called “Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training” is combating this serious problem in the agriculture community by teaching participants stress management, suicide awareness, and how to communicate with farmers suffering from stress.
It is completely free, self-paced, and accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, even on a busy schedule.
The course is sponsored by Farm Credit, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension System, and features content created by Extension professionals at Michigan State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, Montana State University, and South Dakota State University.
“Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training” teaches participants to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and suicide as well as ways to support and effectively communicate with farmers and farm workers who may be under stress. The course also seeks to reduce the stigma related to mental health issues, bringing together the specific needs and concerns of the agriculture world with evidence-based approaches in behavioral health.
The goal of the course is to give farmers, their families, and their communities the mental health tools and resources they need during stressful times. Affordable and accessible online courses like this are especially important in rural areas, where many residents lack ready access to hospitals, much less mental health services.
“The health and well-being of our rice farmers is a top priority of USA Rice, and it’s encouraging to see so many new resources becoming available to those who do the hard work of feeding our country and the world every day,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.
In March of 2019, USA Rice joined a coalition of dozens of agriculture organizations in signing a letter calling for Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) included in the 2018 Farm Bill. At the 2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, Dr. Shimi Kang, an award-winning Harvard-trained physician, researcher, and author, gave the keynote speech on the public health crisis of stress and stress-related illness.
“Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training
” is available for free through DL2 Open Courses, and takes approximately two hours and 45 minutes to complete.