Stress and Mental Health


Stress, depression, and suicide are on the mind of agricultural communities, where economic, social, and environmental forces challenge the health and safety of farmers, agricultural workers and their families.

In response to a growing concern about the lack of resources and support for farmers, farm workers and families who are facing difficult economic conditions in the region and the higher rates of suicide in rural and agricultural communities, UMASH has been working to build partnerships to stimulate innovation and action.


Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training


June 15, 2020 – June 14, 2021

What is farm stress and how can you help? Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and suicide, effectively communicate with people under stress, reduce stigma related to mental health concerns, and connect farmers and ranchers with resources.


Upper Midwest
North Dakota
  • Farm and Ranch Stress (North Dakota State University Extension)
  • Rural Stress and Mental Health PSA #1 (North Dakota Bankers Association)
  • Rural Stress and Mental Health PSA #2 (North Dakota Bankers Association)
  • North Dakota NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
  • Jamestown Regional Medical Center collaborated with The Village Business Institute to offer web-based counseling at no cost to the agricultural community. The program is called Agricultural Workforce Assistance (AWA) and includes up to three free sessions of counseling support. To access the services, call 1 (800) 627-8220 and ask for web-based counseling with The Village AWA. More information is available at
South Dakota

UMASH Partner Projects

To build upon the ideas generated in the Building Resilient Agricultural Communities forum, UMASH invited partnership proposals that would address forum themes and build partnerships in the region to respond to the needs. Sixteen proposals were received and three were selected to partner with UMASH.

Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture

Doris Mold
Past-President, American Agri-Women; Minnesota Agri-Women District 11 President; Farm Business Management Instructor

Megan Roberts
Extension Educator, Co-Leader Minnesota Women in Ag Network, University of Minnesota Extension

Little is known about current rates of depression in farm populations. Research has shown:

  • Farmwomen have unique self-perceived needs in responding to farm stress because of the multiple roles they play on farm.
  • Farmwomen’s mental health and psychological well being is under researched.

This proposal focuses on collecting early detection data from farmers, in particular female farmers followed by virtual telehelp/webinar sessions.  The presentation portion of the meetings will be recorded and provided in an online library hosted on the American Agri-Women website for later listening.


Stress and Mental Health Conversations with Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety

Carolyn Sheridan, RN, BSN

Founder, Ag Health & Safety Alliance

The next generation of the agricultural workforce is in a unique situation where they are not only struggling with their own personal stress but they are also observing the stress and mental health issues of their family members, which can include parents, grandparents and other family members. This program will focus on developing and implementing innovative educational tools for students at Agriculture Colleges.


Using Stories and Education to Build Resilient Agricultural Communities

Sue Abderholden, MPH

Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota

Wil Sampson-Bernstrom
Health and Wellness Community Educator, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota

This project addresses the need for public education to normalize stress/poor mental health and to train community members on the key warning signs and on the community resources. This will be done by creating personal stories of farmers or farm families living with depression or being a suicide survivor and sharing them through video, podcasts, presentations or print. The project will also collaborate with agricultural communities to raise awareness of mental health resources and equip community members by offering suicide prevention classes, such as QPR (Questions, Persuade, Refer) and Mental Health First Aid.



UMASH and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) hosted a one-day working forum, “Building Resilient Agricultural Communities” at the University of Minnesota on June 20, 2018.

This event brought together stakeholders from across Minnesota to explore the stress and mental health challenges that farmers, agricultural workers, and their families experience and stimulate new and existing partnerships to identify gaps in community-based programs and health services.

Related News

If you have questions, comments or you would like to connect with UMASH regarding this topic, please contact:
Diane Kampa