Raising awareness about farmer stress and mental health have been priorities for farming organizations.
Farmers and rural residents are starting to feel more comfortable opening up about their mental health struggles and seeking help for them.
According to a new research poll released in December by the American Farm Bureau Federation, 83 percent of rural adults and 92 percent of farmworkers said when dealing with stress or a mental health condition, they’d be comfortable talking about solutions with a friend or family member. In addition, farmers and farmworkers who said they’d be comfortable talking to friends and family has increased 22 percent since April 2019.
Nearly half of rural adults and 44 percent of farmers and farmworkers said they’re more comfortable talking to their doctor about these personal issues compared to a year ago.
“It’s encouraging to hear that those in rural communities are more likely to seek help when needed,” said Dana Fisher, chairman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Farm Safety Advisory Committee. “Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness in keeping our farmers and their families safe.”
The poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of AFBF, surveyed 2,000 rural adults across the nation. Results were compared to 2019 and 2020 AFBF surveys that analyzed trends regarding farmer mental health and related stigma.
Raising awareness about farmer stress and mental health have been priorities for farming organizations, as increased stress levels and poor mental health can lead to physical health issues and even poor decision-making—increasing the risk for accidents on the farm.
Some of the top issues that impact farmer and farmworker stress and mental health are financial problems, natural disasters and the farm economy.
But while stigma surrounding mental health appears to be on the decline overall, it’s still a problem in agriculture communities. The AFBF survey found 59 percent of rural adults said there’s still some stigma attached to stress and mental health in the farming community, including 63 percent of farmworkers.
The stigma attached to mental health can be a barrier to those who need help.
“This poll shows that we are making a difference, but we still have work to do,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s up to each of us to keep looking out for our family, friends and neighbors and let them know they’re not alone when they feel the increasing stress that comes with the daily business of farming and ranching.”
For information on crisis hotlines, treatment locators and tips for managing stress or helping someone experiencing emotional pain, visit the Farm State of Mind website at farmstateofmind.org.