Amid COVID-19 and the economic crisis it has caused, the nation’s farmers and ranchers, like many of us, are experiencing high levels of stress and other mental health challenges. Extension has convened a panel of experts and will host a free online session Tuesday, July 7, 10-11:30 a.m. PST, specifically to provide information to agricultural producers to help them manage any such struggles they may be experiencing. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussions. The session, titled “Stress and Mental Wellness Check,” will feature:
- Lorann Stallones is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Colorado State University, where she works to improve the health and safety of people engaged in agriculture through understanding risk factors associated with stress and suicidal behavior. She began her studies of health and safety among farmers and their families in upstate New York, continued that work at the University of Kentucky, and came to Colorado State University in 1990.
- Alison Brennan is an assistant professor and Extension mental health specialist at Montana State University. Brennan’s research includes evaluation of behavioral health interventions and rural development projects.
- Kenneth Coll is former dean of the College of Education and former acting dean of the School of Social Work, at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is currently on special assignment. His work includes offering guidance and resources for those who may be experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues. Coll’s career and research have focused on educational psychology and counseling.
- Brenda Freeman is a professor of counseling and educational psychology in the College of Education and Extension specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her work includes providing guidance and resources for those experiencing stress or mental health issues. Freeman has over 30 years of experience in the field of counseling.
The session is part of an online series, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic,” being organized and presented by Lindsay Chichester, Extension educator in Douglas County, Nevada. The sessions are offered via Facebook Live, with Chichester opening each one with an introduction about the topic, followed by brief presentations by the speakers. Then, the majority of each session is driven by questions from participants.
Known as “Dr. Lindsay” to many in the country’s agriculture industry and on social media, Chichester grew up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northern California, and then earned a master’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in agricultural sciences.
“Even in the best of times, ranchers and farmers often lead a pretty stressful life,” she said. “And, often they are very humble, independent and proud, and may be isolated from people who can help them manage their stress or mental health struggles. We just wanted to provide a connection, information and resources for them, as they continue to provide the food for our country during this unprecedented time. We also encourage anyone who may need help or just wants more information to join us.”
For the link for the July 7 session, and details on future sessions, visit the "Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic" program page. For more information, email Chichester or call 775-782-9960 (leave a message and she will call you back).