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Agri-Business Bankers Point Farmers to Mental Health Resources

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The extreme weather systems that caused wide-spread flooding in the state are only the most recent challenge for South Dakota’s ag producers. Financial uncertainty caused by low commodity prices, trade disputes, and delayed planting can contribute to anxiety and depression symptoms. With that risk in mind, some ag bankers are taking it upon themselves to refer clients to mental health resources.

Nate Franzén is the president of the Agri-Business division of First Dakota National Bank. In the division’s monthly newsletter, he writes that net worth is not self-worth, and encourages farmers and ranchers to seek help if the stress is overwhelming.

Franzén explains many ag producers are struggling after a period of unusually high commodity prices between 2008 and 2013.

“Certainly during those good times, there were opportunities for farms and ranches to make profit, and get themselves positioned better financially. Many folks did that, but certainly others saw it as an opportunity to expand as well, and those that expanded and used leverage to do so are the ones probably feeling the pinch the hardest in this environment today.”

Franzén says ag bankers work closely with producers. While they’re not mental health professionals, he says they witness stress and do their best to encourage producers to take advantage of help that’s available to them.

“One of the things I state in the newsletter is just the fact that getting help, going to see a professional, is a sign of strength not weakness.”

Those resources include the Farmer’s Stress Hotline through Avera Behavioral Health and stress-management workshops through SDSU Extension.

Regional Health supports Education and Healthcare reporting on SDPB.