As any farmer or rancher can tell you, farm life can be demanding and stressful. It has reached a critical stage with pandemic impacts on top of natural disasters, extreme weather events, financial pressures due to fluctuating commodity prices, labor shortages, trade disruptions and other factors over the past several years. Given these ongoing challenges, it’s no surprise that more farmers and farm families are experiencing stress and mental health concerns.
A healthy farm or ranch is nothing without a healthy you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental health challenge, you are not alone. Check out the following resources and follow #FarmStateofMind on social media to show your support. A healthy farm or ranch is nothing without a healthy you.
If there’s a resource you’d like us to consider for this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
When loved ones, neighbors or others you care about are experiencing mental health challenges, they may not even realize it. Here’s how you can identify someone who may be at risk.
Change in routines or social activities
Decline in the care of domestic animals
Increase in illness or other chronic conditions
Increase in farm accidents
Decline in appearance of the farmstead
Decreased interest in activities or events
Signs of stress in children including struggles with school
Learn more about recognizing the signs of chronic stress, depression or suicidal intent and what you can do to help at NY FarmNet.
There are still many harmful attitudes and misunderstandings around mental health, which may make people ignore a mental health condition, fuel stigma and make it harder to reach out for help. Take this quiz to see if you can separate the myths from the facts.
Although it may feel like it’s out of your comfort zone, you can start a conversation in any number of ways:
Remind Them of Something They’ve Said and Express Interest
"You mentioned no one seems to understand what you're going through. Sounds pretty lonely, and I want you to know you can talk to me."
— Adrienne DeSutter, Illinois
Farm Bureau Member
Acknowledge What They’re Going Through
"Hey, how have you been handling all of this lately? I know it's been some tough times, can I help in any way?"
— Shelby Watson, Maryland
Farm Bureau Member
Share a habit you’ve seen change. Don’t wait for them to ask for help. If they’re willing to reach out, encourage them. Try not to compare their challenges to someone else’s, or minimize what they’re going through. What matters most is showing genuine care and empathy, and listening.
Keep them safe
Help them connect
Visit the National Institute of Mental Health website for more information.
Farmers and people in rural areas are more comfortable talking about stress and mental health challenges with others, and stigma around seeking help or treatment has decreased in rural and farm communities, but it is still a factor. These were some of the findings of a new American Farm Bureau Federation research poll conducted by Morning Consult among a national sample of 2,000 rural adults. The poll results were compared with previous surveys AFBF conducted in 2019 and 2020 on the impacts of the rural economy and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmer mental health.
Mental health issues and substance use disorders sometimes occur together, and they share some underlying causes. Farm Bureau and Farmers Union worked together to bring attention to the opioid epidemic in farm country and provide information and resources to help people struggling with addiction. The Farm Town Strong campaign has had a significant impact in reducing stigma and influencing public opinion about opioid addiction in rural America.
Recognizing the high levels of stress affecting America’s farmers and ranchers, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union partnered on a program to train individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers, providing them with the skills to:
Listen to the compelling stories of three members who believe that advocating for farmer mental health wellness is a way to save lives. Did you know that farmers die by suicide at a rate of 2-5 times higher than the national average? It is critical that we do something to change that statistic! Stress, addiction, loss, financial hardship, relationship struggles, and all of the uncontrollable variables that impact farmers on a daily basis must not win. Something as simple as sharing information, starting a conversation, listening, and reaching out for help can help save a life