A strong majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing the farm impacts their mental health, according to a new national Morning Consult research poll.
Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation in recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the poll surveyed rural adults and farmers/farmworkers to better understand factors affecting the mental health of farmers, availability of resources, perceptions of stigma, personal experiences with mental health challenges and other relevant issues.
Farmers and farmworkers surveyed said financial issues (91 percent), farm or business problems (88 percent) and fear of losing the farm (87 percent) impact farmers’ mental health. Other factors included stress, weather, the economy, isolation and social stigma.
A strong majority of rural adults (91 percent) said mental health is important to them and/or their family, while 82 percent of farmers/farmworkers said the same. Polling found that a majority of rural adults have either personally sought care (31 percent) or have a family member (24 percent) who has sought care for a mental health condition.
Three in four rural adults (75 percent) said it’s important to reduce stigma about mental health in the agriculture community, while two in three farmers/farmworkers (66 percent) said the same.
Large majorities of rural Americans polled agreed that cost, social stigma and embarrassment would make it harder for them to seek help or treatment for mental health conditions.
Highlighting the need for awareness and training, the survey showed that farmers and farmworkers are less likely than rural adults in general to be confident that they would be able to spot the warning signs of a mental health condition (55 percent vs. 73 percent).
Farm Bureau is urging Congress to fund $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, the level authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.