May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Show-Me Strong Farm Families

Breaking down barriers to mental health services for Missouri farmers and their families is a goal of University of Missouri Extension through the newly revised Show-Me Strong Farm Families website at

Rev up safety when riding ATVs

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Spring and riding ATVs seem to go together. However, ATV accidents can lead to tragedy when precautions are not followed, says University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. ATVs can offer hours of fun in the days ahead when riders observe safety rules. She says it is important to teach young riders rules of the road and to teach by example.

MU Extension studies loneliness in rural areas

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Montana State University is partnering with University of Missouri Extension and the MU Department of Psychological Sciences to research the connection between loneliness and mental health in agricultural workers and rural residents. The study will increase understanding of how isolation contributes to the mental health crisis in rural communities, with the goal of providing insights into targeting future interventions.

MFA Foundation gift supports rural mental health resources

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri farmers and ranchers increasingly struggle with mental health challenges and access to resources. The state’s rural suicide rate is growing faster than in urban counties, increasing 78% between 2003 and 2017. With a four-year grant commitment from the MFA Foundation, University of Missouri Extension will have new avenues to support rural communities in need of mental health assistance.

Missouri farmers seeking rollover protection devices for tractors

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Since 2016, more than 70 Missouri farmers asked for help to install tractor rollover protection (ROP) devices from a national program that provides rebates, but the waiting list is long, and only one Missouri farmer has received assistance so far.

Farming: The most dangerous job in the U.S.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Each year, more people die while farming than while serving as police officers, firefighters or other emergency responders. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a rate of 23 work-related deaths per 100,000 workers in the agricultural industry. That is seven times higher than the national average for workers.

MU Extension offers mental health resources for farmers, ranchers

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Take care of the farm and the farm will take care of you. That’s common advice handed down from one generation to the next. But farmers often face stress that the farm can’t take care of, says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist. Farmers tend to put their families and farms before themselves, says Funkenbusch. But neither can function unless farmers take care of themselves…

Reduce holiday stress with these tips

COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say. Picture-perfect families with perfectly coiffed hair and pearly white smiles appear in matching holiday attire in countless holiday television commercials. Perfectly wrapped gifts wait under perfectly decorated trees. How merry and bright! And then there’s the rest of us, says Jeremiah Terrell, a University of Missouri Extension human development and family…

Holidays require special planning by caregivers

COLUMBIA, Mo. – As the holidays approach, family caregivers face stressful challenges.November is National Family Caregivers Month, which recognizes relatives who give assistance to adults with chronic or disabling conditions. It’s a good time for caregivers to set expectations for the upcoming holidays, says Karen Funkenbusch, health and safety specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

Free farm safety podcasts available

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health offers free podcasts on farm safety and health topics, says University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch, who serves on the center’s regional advisory committee.

From national security to food security

WARRENSBURG, Mo. – Santiago and Julie Valdez say the Heroes to Hives program offered by University of Missouri Extension offers a sweet opportunity to expand their business and connect with other beekeepers who are veterans. MU’s Heroes to Hives program is the first state chapter modeled after a program offered through Michigan State University and its partners.

Memorial Day offers time for delayed healing

COLUMBIA, Mo. – For five generations, the James O’Donnell Funeral Home has held the hands and hearts of grieving northeastern Missouri families as they said their goodbyes.Fifth-generation owner Jimmy O’Donnell says no time in history challenged him and other rural funeral directors more than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fight fatigue, stress on the farm with sleep for better bottom line

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Long hours during calving and planting seasons can cause fatigue and stress, leading to accidents and costly mistakes, says Mary Engram, University of Missouri Extension human development specialist.“Lack of sleep affects us physically and mentally,” says Engram.

Do spring safety check on and off the farm

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Planting season brings increased risk of physical injury and mental stress among farmworkers and families, says University of Missouri Extension safety and health specialist Karen Funkenbusch. Before heading to the fields, review basic safety lessons with workers and family members, she says. Rural roadway safety

Take your time with power takeoffs

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Survivors do not soon forget power takeoff accidents.Retired Monroe County farmer Artie Whelan recalls one of his first days back on the farm after his discharge from the U.S. Army 64 years ago.

Consider ergonomics when buying garden tools

COLUMBIA, Mo. – If you have a gardener on your holiday gift list, consider user-friendly tools that suit their ability and age.When choosing tools, gardeners and gift-givers should consider ergonomics, the science of fitting equipment to create less stress on the body, says Brenda Schreck, University of Missouri Extension specialist in livestock and youth development.

Free hotline offers counseling, referrals for Missourians in crisis

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missourians in crisis can take advantage of a free 24-hour hotline for stress counseling as well as information and referrals on legal, financial, crisis/disaster and personal health topics. Individuals can seek help by phone or live online chat.

First state chapter of Heroes to Hives beekeeping program begins at MU

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri has the first state chapter of Heroes to Hives, a program that supports veterans who want to learn beekeeping.

Harvesting grief: National Suicide Awareness Month

COLUMBIA, Mo. – It is almost harvest time on the Gottman farms in rural northeastern Missouri. Trees blushed with shades of scarlet, saffron and sage edge mouse-brown soybean fields. The air is crisp; the sky a palette of blues. From the combine cab, Tim Gottman will remember his gentle-hearted son’s birthday on Sept. 27. Toby would have been 22, likely ready to take his place on the farm where five generations of his family tilled…

Develop a family crisis plan

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The best time to prepare for an emergency is when there is no emergency, says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist. National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held annually in September and is a good time to develop a crisis plan, says Funkenbusch.

MU clinic offering teleservices for COVID-19 stress

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri Psychological Services Clinic is offering teleservices to help adults and children cope with anxiety and stress related to COVID-19. The clinic offers up to five brief sessions through videoconferencing or telephone, said Debora Bell, longtime director of the clinic.

New research identifies behavioral health crisis in agriculture

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Amid mounting pressures — floods, bankruptcies, consolidation and a credit squeeze — rural Missourians struggle to access mental health services. Mental health challenges are a growing public health concern in rural Missouri, according to a new report from the Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Missouri Farm Bureau and University…

Agency partnerships help cattle farmer with hydrocephalus

ST. ELIZABETH, Mo. – Despite 26 surgeries, 47-year-old Blaine Kemna farms every day.He remains an independent farmer and works with the Missouri AgrAbility Project and its partners.Kemna was born with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes water to put pressure on the brain. University of Missouri Extension safety and health specialist Karen Funkenbusch says AgrAbility helped Kemna obtain adaptive devices to remain independent.

Heatstroke can kill quickly in hot cars

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When the news has another tragic story about a child accidentally left in a hot car, parents might believe they could never make a mistake like that. “It’s not just negligent parents or indifferent caregivers. When juggling the demands of work, parenting and daily life, it’s easier than you might think to make a simple but fatal mistake,” says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety…

Illness from mosquito, flea, tick bites has tripled since 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch urges Missouri residents to take precautions to ward off mosquitoes, ticks and fleas this summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in May that diseases from the bites of these insects tripled from 2004 to 2016. Also, CDC reported that nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were introduced or discovered in…