Iowa farmers are experiencing one of their most stressful periods in recent memory because of continued low commodity prices, enduring trade issues and an extremely wet spring. That stress, according to David Brown, the behavioral health state specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, makes it critical for neighbors, family and others in rural Iowa to be able to recognize the signs of extreme stress in farmers and to be ready with ways to help.

At his presentation to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) 2019 Economic Summit on June 28 in Des Moines, Brown will focus on practical ways family members can look for signs of stress and to communicate with those who need help. He’ll also highlight the resources in Iowa that families and others can go to to find help coping with stress and addressing mental health issues.

“We want to teach people some very simple skills which they can use to both communicate with those farmers and others who may be distressed or even feel suicidal,” Brown said. “And we want folks to know there are resources, such as the Iowa Concern Hotline or the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine, which are there to provide help.”

Brown’s presentation at the IFBF Economic Summit will be very timely because maintaining mental health is important for farmers in the current economic climate, said Sam Funk, IFBF senior economist.

“A lot of our summit will focus on economics and risk management,” Funk said. “But we also need to focus on caring for our physical and mental health. In the past, there has been a stigma about talking about and addressing behavioral health issues, and we need that to go away.”

The 2019 IFBF Economic Summit will be held at the Des Moines Marriott-Downtown, beginning with registration at 7:30 a.m. on June 28. Pre-registration for the event, which includes access to all presentations and lunch, is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $150 for non-members before June 19. At the door, the cost is $60 for members and $150 for non-members.

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