CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Oct. 4, 1999
Economic stress can lead to farm injuries; I-CASH specialists
urge farmers to seek help
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The fall grain harvest is a hectic
period for farmers as they manage time, weather, fuel and equipment issues
to get their crops in storage or to market. Adding the economic pressure that
many farmers face this year could lead to an increased number of farm accidents
or other health problems, say specialists at Iowa's Center for Agricultural
Safety and Health (I-CASH).
"Serious economic stress can lead to a number of health
problems," said Kelley Donham, D.V.M., professor of occupational and environmental
health in the UI College of Public Health and I-CASH director. "Moreover,
it puts farmers -- and their families -- at an increased risk for injuries."
UI researchers reported in the Journal of Agromedicine
in 1997 that farmers who experienced high economic stress were two to three
times more likely to experience a serious injury than farmers not experiencing
high stress. Simply put, stress can lead to injuries when farmers are unable
to focus clearly on the job at hand. Preoccupation with financial matters
can cause anxiety or even a sense of urgency to complete certain tasks. Over
time, accidents occur.
Mental health problems also result from long periods of
stress, economic or otherwise. However, many farmers and their families are
reluctant to talk to psychologists or seek mental health counseling or other
services, according to Mike Rosmann, Ph.D., a Harlan, Iowa psychologist and
consultant to I-CASH.
"Generally speaking, farmers and their families are resilient
people," he said. "They can handle some stress by themselves. When stress
multiplies, however, their defenses may be stretched thin and they may need
support from professionals."
Often, Rosmann said, stressed farmers and family members
turn to other farmers for help. He added, however, that they will reach out
to counselors or other professionals who understand farming. "It's especially
helpful when the professionals understand the pressures that accompany agriculture,"
Resources are available for farm families who need help
today. The Iowa Concern Hotline has information about professional services
available to farmers in a variety of areas, such as mental health assistance,
financial and legal advice, and help for farm children with health concerns.
The Iowa Concern Hotline can be reached anytime, day or night, at (800) 447-1985.
I-CASH is a partnership of the UI, ISU, the Iowa Department
of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Based at the UI, its key objective is to help reduce illnesses and injuries
among Iowa's agricultural population.