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Michigan State University

Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training

Michigan State University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Desire2Learn


In this course, you will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and suicide, ways to effectively communicate with people under stress, and how to reduce stigma related to mental health concerns. What you learn in this course can help your friends, family, neighbors and community during stressful times.

Recognizing the high levels of stress affecting America’s farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Cooperative Extension System, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union have worked together to bring this course online for the public.

The content in this course was created by Extension professionals at Michigan State University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Montana State University and South Dakota State University. Development for the course was financially supported by the national partners. The course brings together the knowledge of agriculture and evidence-based approaches in behavioral health to help people recognize the signs of stress. The course better equips farmers, their families, and the agricultural community with tools and resources to help in time of need.


Unit 1: Managing Stress.

Upon completion of this unit, participants will learn: signs, symptoms, and effects of stress; strategies for managing stress in healthy ways; common stressors for farmers and ranchers; and potential ripples of stress in families. Estimated time for completion is 60 minutes.

Unit 2: Communicating with Distressed Farmers.

Upon completion of this unit, participants will be able to: explain the importance of empathy and mindset for interactions with agricultural producers; identify techniques that can be used to manage conflict and stressful situations; apply communication knowledge and skills to interactions with farmers and farm families. Estimated time for completion is 75 minutes.

Unit 3: Suicide Awareness.

Upon completion of this unit, participants will be able to: recognize and provide initial assistance to someone who shows signs of suicidal thoughts. This unit might be emotionally challenging based on your comfort, experience(s) and or, history as it pertains to this topic. Overall purpose of the unit is to build your knowledge and confidence to communicate with people who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, and to be able to give them resources to help. Estimated time for completion is 30 minutes.


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