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Iowa Farmers Continue To Face Mental Health Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic

Scott Goodwill
Many Iowa farmers have faced financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increase in mental health issues.

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:

The Iowa Farm Bureau provides a list of resources on its website.