Colorado AgrAbility Project: Roberta Schweitzer, Preventing Farmer Suicide and Opioid Misuse

Geared specifically for folks working in Agriculture or working in Mental health or drug rehab services

Colorado State University will host Roberta Schweitzer, Ph.D., R.N., FCN. Her clinical specialty is in rural community mental health promotion.

Dr. Schweitzer will present “Preventing Farmer Suicide and Opioid Misuse: Practical Information for Agricultural Professionals working with Colorado Farmers and Ranchers and Their Families” at Colorado State University on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 (9:00 – 4:00) in the Lory Student Center Room 302 Longs Peak. It is for professionals working with farm and ranch families with disabilities.

Twenty percent of our nation’s population lives in rural areas, where they are faced with significant disparities in healthcare services – physical and emotional. This is significant for farm and ranch families because of the potential risks associated with farming/ranching as an occupation. In addition, sixty percent of rural Americans live in mental health professional shortage areas resulting in lack of knowledge and myths about mental health that lead to stigma with mental health disorders. This leads to lack of recognition, less effective management of problems, and limited prevention efforts.

The impact of stress is a fact of everyday life for all of us. However, for ranchers and farmers who live and work in rural areas, additional factors come into play, such as unpredictable weather patterns and fluctuations in crop/livestock prices. Circumstances, situations, and stressors can leave individuals feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed.

Support systems, like Extension Agents, the Colorado AgrAbility Project (CAP) Team, and other rural professionals are faced with farm families who feel significant increases in financial and emotional stress. Not knowing what to do or say in these situations can be frustrating for the families and professional staff. If not recognized and referred for appropriate intervention, signs of stress, anger, depression, drug use, and suicidal thinking may become overwhelming and dangerous. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Report showed that Colorado’s overall suicide rate is ninth highest in the U.S., and opioid use and abuse has become a serious problem.

The goals of this workshop are to increase knowledge about mental health issues, decrease associated stigma, and provide practical referral and resource materials for use by Extension Agents, other professionals, and CAP staff in rural communities.

This presentation will:

1) Review characteristics of normal stress and neurophysiological processes

2) Identify negative outcomes of stress overload and altered processes

3) Identify key assessment cues for common mental health problems and signs of high stress, anger, depression, suicidal thinking, and opioid misuse

4) Skills training in basic therapeutic techniques for lay personnel

5) Examine some practical stress, depression, and suicide prevention management strategies for mental health promotion

6) Identify local, regional, and national sources for support and referral

7) Questions/comments from staff

Dr. Schweitzer’s workshop is brought to you by the Colorado AgrAbility Project and their partners: Dr. Lou Swanson, CSU Vice President for Engagement and Extension Director, and Dr. James Pritchett, Executive Associate Dean, with Extension’s new Mental Health Initiative, and Dr. J. Douglas Coatsworth and the Department of Human Development & Family Studies’ Prevention Research Center. These partners are working to address the opioid problem, reduce stigma, and make referrals to local behavioral health therapists and Colorado Community Mental Health Centers in rural areas.

Regarding parking on campus, according to CSU Parking Services (970-491-7041), we have three options:

  • Purchase a hang tag ahead of time for $12/day.
  • Call and purchase a virtual daily permit for $12/day with your own license tag as your permit for December 5, 2018.
  • Use “Pay to Park” @ $1.75/hour.

Free lunch at “Spoons” in the Lory Student Center is provided by the Prevention Research Center for the first 50 professionals who register by November 28, 2018.

To register, email or telephone your name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number no later than November 28 to Dr. Bob Fetsch at or 970-491-5648.

Biographical Speaker Sketch for Dr. Roberta Schweitzer

Roberta holds a Ph.D. in Nursing from University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at UCLA that examined determinants of quality of life for clients living with the chronic impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her clinical specialty is in the area of community mental health promotion, with an emphasis on rural communities.

Her 30-plus years of experience have included serving as a Psych-mental health Consultation Liaison Nurse Specialist in a medical hospital, group psychotherapist, and Nursing Professor at University of Nevada, Reno, Indiana University, Kokomo, and Purdue University with a focus on psych-mental health nursing and quality of life research. Roberta is the Mental Health Consultant for Indiana AgrAbility-Breaking New Ground at Purdue University, where she is a member of the Advisory Council.

Currently Dr. Schweitzer has a private practice – Body-Mind-Spirit Wellness Center – as an educator, consultant and therapist to enhance mental health, wellness and quality of life in the community. She is Certified as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and an Endorsed Educator for Faith Community Nursing Practice. Roberta is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, specializing in massage for clients with cancer or other chronic illnesses.

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.