Free online courses offered to help rural residents recognize farm stress

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Free resources designed to train farmers and rural community members to identify and manage farm stress are now available.

The Rural Resilience Program—a collaborative effort by Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union—launched June 23.

Rural Resilience training addresses the growing need for mental health resources in farming communities facing economic stress, social isolation and the stigma associated with seeking help.

“At Farm Credit, we’re out in the countryside talking to farmers and ranchers all the time, and we see the stress,” said Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the national Farm Credit Council.

“We see this stress rising on not only the farmers themselves, but think about the impact it has on farm families and entire farming communities,” Van Hoose noted. “We’re hopeful that this online stress training program can provide some resources to manage that.”

Content for the program was developed by Cooperative Extension specialists from Michigan State University, Montana State University, South Dakota State University, University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin.

The program’s three training sessions, titled Managing StressCommunicating with Distressed Farmers and Suicide Awareness, are self-paced and take approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Participants will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and how to effectively communicate with individuals under duress. Additionally, participants will develop skills to help reduce the stigma related to mental health concerns in rural communities.

“We need to look after the people around us in our communities and make sure we keep our eyes open for the warning signs as farmers struggle through difficult times,” commented AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “I want to invite everyone to take advantage of this free online resource. It’s an opportunity to help restore hope in our rural communities and farm families.

“And, it could possibly save someone’s life.”

Registration for Rural Resilience courses can be completed online, and full program details can be found at

Additional farm stress resources and materials can be found through AFBF and Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

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