What We Do

The Purdue Farm Stress Team

There are many resources available to farmers however much of this information ignores the most important farm asset; the farmer, farm family, and farm employees.

Since January of 2019, 21 Purdue University Extension Educators have attended a Farm Stress Training conducted by Michigan State University.. We are a mix of Health and Human Science CC Plot Seedingand Agriculture and Natural Resources Educators from across the state. This team provides tools, resources, and programs to help farmers address the day-to-day stresses and difficulties of owning or operating a business which is subject to so many challenges and uncertainties.

We deliver two programs, each focused on the health and well-being of farmers. These are, Communicating with Farmers under Stress and Weathering the Storm in Agriculture: How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset.

We hope you take advantage of what we have to offer whether this involves attending one of our programs, using this and other websites and information sources, or contacting one of us if you would just like to talk.

Communicating with Farmers Under Stress

This four hour workshop is for those who work with farmers and their families. Examples include ag lenders, ministers, family members, vets, inspectors, seed/feed sales, breeders, Farm Bureaus and other associations. Because of their personal and business relationship with farmers, these persons may have the first insight that something is amiss. For example, they may notice decline on the farm or have to deny a loan application. People often want to help, but may not be sure what to say or do. This workshop will help participants recognize signs of stress and learn techniques for identifying, approaching and working with farmers who may not cope with stress effectively. Other relevant groups could be health care workers and mental health professionals who may not have a full understanding of the stress factors involved with the agriculture profession.

Weathering the Storm in Agriculture:
How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset

This is a 60 minute workshop for farmers and their families. It is designed to help farmers and their families understand the signs and symptoms of chronic stress, to build skills in recognizing and responding to mental health concerns in themselves and others, know where to go for more help and resources. It includes resources about how to handle stress for a more productive mindset on the farm.

Here’s What People are Saying About Purdue Farm Stress Team Programs

Since spring, 2019 the Farm Stress Team has delivered 52 programs reaching 1,550 people. As a result of the program:

  • 97% of participants reported an increase in understanding the current agricultural financial situation
  • 100% (all but 2) reported an increase in understanding of the impact that stress has on our bodies
  • 99% reported an increase in confidence in identifying signs and symptoms of stress in someone; and where to send someone for help
  • 99% reported an increase in confidence in communicating with someone experiencing stress
  • 98% reported an increase in understanding the warning signs of suicide

Here are some quotes from those who have attended these two programs.

What people learned. Participants have shared that they learned about:

  • “The resources available to farmers regarding stress and suicide”
  • “The action plan documents will be helpful to walk through at home.”
  • “All of the different ways (not just mental) that stress can affect our bodies”
  • “Pay more attention to how stress can affect my body and taking a negative thought and turning it in to a positive (self-talk)”
  • “How stress affects the body and tips for coping with stress”

Identifying signs of emotional distress. A major program topic is how to tell if someone may be in distress, how to approach him or her about it, and how to look for warning signs of suicide.

  • “How to be aware of farmers dealing with stress and how it affects the family in dealing with mind, body, and actions.”
  • “The suicide information was valuable, because just something not in my vocabulary, so I had not clue how to have that conversation.”
  • “Understanding what stress looks like, how to approach or help someone stressed, how I can in my position interact better.”
  • “How to talk to someone and be positive and be empathetic”
  • “How to approach a stressed farmer and high stress situation on a farm setting.”
  • “I learned the difference between empathizing and sympathizing with someone. To empathize is to feel the same emotions the other person feels and understanding why they feel that way. Your words, actions and how you convey yourself to someone in distress can be their making or breaking and I think this could be used both personally and professionally. I also learned a good breathing technique that helps release tension and reduce stress.”

Learning about farmers and farming. For those not familiar with agriculture, the program teaches about the unique stressors farmers and farm families often face.

  • “This workshop gave me a better understanding of the economic impacts and stresses our ag producers are facing.”
  • “Understanding the stress that agribusiness deals with is very helpful to economic development.”
  • “Better understanding of the issued farmers face.”
  • “Overall awareness of mental health insures specifically w/farmers.”
  • “Understanding the great impact this has on farmers and also what stress does to our bodies.”

Keep it up! Many people spoke about the importance of continuing these programs.

  • “I think the most positive thing wasn’t so much the direct material as it was discussing it, and the reduction of the taboo of discussion of suicide, etc.”
  • “This was great, keep up the good work and end the “silence and stigma of mental health with men””
  • “Everything was great! It was the most useful/informative training I have been to in a very long time”
  • “I think our whole company should go through this seminar.”
  • “A big “thank you” for covering this topic so well and tackling this problem that everyone deals with at some time during their lives.”

To schedule a “Communicating with Farmers under Stress” or “Weathering the Storm in Agriculture” program, please contact a member of the Purdue Farm Stress Team.

Purdue Farm Stress Team Contact Information