Northeast Iowa Doctor: Farmers Reluctant to Seek Help for Mental Health
Farmers are traditionally among the first to help a neighbor in trouble, but farmers may be slow to help themselves, especially when it comes to their mental health and dealing with stress.
Dr. Kimberly Lansing is a rural medicine specialist with Gunderson Health System serving northeast Iowa. With the onset of the spring planting season, she says farmers are entering one of the most difficult times of the year.
Lansing says farming is an exceptionally difficult career path, with continual challenges from weather, equipment, labor, and commodities markets.
A University of Iowa study finds suicide rates were 45-percent higher for people in rural areas, and farmers stood out as having even higher rates compared to the general population. The U-I study found farmer suicide rates for the Midwest were three times the national average, but help is available through various resources, including the Iowa Farm Bureau and the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Lansing encourages those who know farmers to check in on them from time to time to make sure they’re doing okay.
Gunderson Health System has a hospital in West Union, plus clinics in Fayette, Decorah, Waukon, Lansing, Postville and Calmar.