Iowa Farmers Continue To Face Mental Health Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic
During the last year, many of Iowa's farmers have faced financial strain due to the pandemic. Experts say it's increasing mental health challenges.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, experts say many of Iowa’s farmers are at a higher risk for mental health challenges.
A poll released by the American Farm Bureau last month found two out of three farmers and farmworkers said the pandemic has affected their mental health.
David Brown, a behavioral health state specialist with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said he’s optimistic that a recent increase in government support for farmers will take some pressure off.
But he said many farmers have really struggled in the past year.
"There has been a spike in deaths by suicide. There is an increase in alcohol use. Certainly the state is selling a lot more alcohol through their venues and things like that," he said.
But Brown said convincing farmers to get help can be challenging.
"Farmers are still self-reliant. They're still independent," he said. "We know that having them ask for help is still going to be hard. And so we're still pushing a lot of programs helping others to know the signs and symptoms of stress."
Farmers who need help can call free and confidential hotlines provided by:
- Iowa Concern 1-800-447-1985
- The Iowa Farm Family Wellness Alliance 1-833-999-3276
- COVID Recovery Iowa warm line 1-844-775-9276
The Iowa Farm Bureau provides a list of resources on its website.