CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
I-CASH urges farm families to use hotline for help
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The recent economic downturn in agriculture, particularly
in the pork industry where hog prices have plummeted in recent months,
could have a devastating effect on the physical health and mental well
being of farm families. Knowing where to go for counseling or other services
is crucial, say specialists at Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and
Health (I-CASH), based at the University of Iowa.
"Low commodity prices, especially for pork producers, have created
a tremendous amount of economic stress on farm families," said Kelley
Donham, UI professor of preventive medicine and environmental health and
I-CASH director. "This can lead to any number of problems -- mental
health symptoms such as anxiety and depression, marital and family strife,
substance abuse, domestic violence and even physical health problems. In
times like these, families need access to information and support."
I-CASH representatives were involved in two recent "summits,"
last Dec. 10-11 in Omaha and on Jan. 14 in Ames, on the current farm crisis
and the health of farm families. The overriding consensus from both meetings
was that mental, financial and social issues farm families face need to
be addressed. Moreover, programs aimed at aiding or counseling farm families
need to be accessible and professional, but also collaborative and implemented
by people who are familiar with farm issues.
I-CASH recommends that farmers and their families contact the Iowa Concern
Hotline toll free at (800) 447-1985 for access to information and services
that are available. A program of the Iowa State University Extension Service,
the hotline provides stress counseling, legal education, and information
and referral for families to find information on financial planning, decision-making
and options through various resources.
"Iowa Concern is a 24-hour confidential hotline and has been taking
calls from farm families who are dealing with some tough decisions in our
changing world of agriculture," said Margaret VanGinkel, coordinator
of the line.
I-CASH is a partnership of the UI, ISU, the Iowa Department of Public
Health and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. One
of its key objectives is to help reduce illnesses and injuries among Iowa's
agricultural population. One such program being developed is SHAUN (Sharing
Help Awareness United Network), a counseling and support group service
for families and survivors of farm-related deaths and accidents. SHAUN
was inspired by a Corning, Iowa woman whose son died in 1989 from a grain
NOTE TO EDITORS: I-CASH also has prepared a fact sheet with contact
information on additional services, both private and governmental, available
to farm families. To obtain a copy, contact I-CASH at (319) 335-4438.