Drought Poses Mental Health Problems For Farmers

The emotional strain of watching their crops wither and livestock feed prices soar could cause farmers to slip into deep depression, substance abuse and even thoughts of suicide, says a mental health expert.

Published on: Oct 10, 2012
"If someone is depressed, they may be withdrawing, not taking care of themselves, not eating properly, sleeping all the time, starting to drink or use drugs, and pretty much giving up," Schweitzer said. "If someone is in that position, you'll want them to know that you are concerned and offer to help them be assessed for suicide risk because there's the potential of that occurring."

Stress management can stop negative emotions from becoming serious mental health problems, Schweitzer said. She recommended the following:

* Good health habits, including proper nutrition, exercise and adequate rest.
* Quality time with family and friends.
* Identifying personal stress "triggers" and activities that can provide relief.
"Another thing to do is make a list of what in your life you have control of and what you can't control," Schweitzer said. "If you can do something about those things on the list, then do it. If you can't do anything - and the drought falls into that category - then don't beat yourself up over it.

"Not being able to do something doesn't mean you are weak or incapable. It means you're human."

Schweitzer's webinar, "Mental/Behavioral Health Resources for the Drought Aftermath," is archived for viewing online. The website also contains a webinar transcript and resource sheet.