Those in the agricultural industry can face unique pressures, many of which are beyond their control.

These include machinery breakdowns, bad weather, commodity and livestock prices, work-related injuries, farm policy changes and overall financial concerns related to the operation of the farm and home.

Add to that list some of the stressors that many of us face, such as family relationship issues, physical and mental health concerns, and community and societal worries.

It is no wonder the National Safety Council ranked agriculture as one of the top two most hazardous occupations.

High stress situations and chronic ongoing stress can take a huge toll on a person’s physical and mental health. It can lead many times to depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts or action.

According to a North Dakota State University Extension Service fact sheet, some of stress symptoms include:

Physical symptoms – muscle aches, frequent headaches, shallow breathing, low energy, frequent upset stomach and fatigue;

Behavioral symptoms – difficulty sleeping, irritability and easy to anger, inability to concentrate or focus, difficulty making decisions and increased use of alcohol and/or drugs;

Emotional symptoms – feelings of anxiety, panic, frustration, impatience, restlessness, isolation, hopelessness and discouragement; and

Relationship symptoms – communication difficulties and maybe even conflict with family members and friends, strained interactions, avoidance of others and verbal or physical outbreaks.

Sometimes people aren’t aware of the warning signs. Some people ignore them, and some have become so accustomed to them that they don’t realize the danger they are in. Others may be concerned about the stigma that seems to accompany issues with mental health.

So, hopefully, farmers, ranchers and others with agricultural occupations – and their families – will read this column or other messages and materials in the public, take a moment to assess how they are feeling and get help if needed.

Visiting a health care provider would be a great start, but below are some other resources.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255;

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264;

Substance Abuse and Mental health Services National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357;

The American Institute for Stress: {stress.org}; and

National Institute of Mental Health: {nimh.nih.gov}.

Cheri Burcham serves as a University of Illinois Extension family life educator in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties.