By Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension, Paulding County
It is important to take a moment to reflect on the mental health challenges that farmers face year-round. Farming can be a rewarding profession, but it can also be incredibly demanding and isolating. From dealing with unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets to managing finances and family responsibilities, farmers carry a lot of stress on their shoulders.
The impact of mental health challenges on farmers is significant. According to a recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation, 91% of farmers reported experiencing stress, anxiety, fatigue, or other mental health challenges. Furthermore, a 2020 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that farmers have a higher suicide rate than the general population.
It is clear that we need to prioritize farmers’ mental health. Here are some steps we can take:
- Raise awareness: Let’s start by talking openly about mental health challenges in the farming community. This can help reduce the stigma around seeking help and encourage farmers to prioritize their mental health.
- Provide resources: There are many resources available to farmers who are struggling with mental health challenges. These include hotlines, support groups, and counseling services. Let’s make sure that farmers know about these resources and how to access them. One such resource is the website http://u.osu.edu/farmstress
- Foster community: Farming can be an isolating profession, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s work to build strong farming communities where farmers can connect with each other and provide support. Our Paulding County farm families have opportunities to connect.
- Advocate for policy change: Policies that support farmers, such as fair prices and access to healthcare, can help reduce the financial and emotional stress that farmers face. If you are struggling to locate these resources, please reach out to me (Sarah Noggle).
As members of the farming community, we all have a role to play in prioritizing farmers’ mental health. Let’s work together to ensure that every farmer has the support and resources they need to thrive. Our community has many partnerships. I believe in prevention via awareness of programs such as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR). For more information visit our Ohio State Farm Stress website https://go.osu.edu/farmstress
Stay safe while planting this spring season.