Mental Health in Rural America


By: Samantha Barnett, Communications Intern

Just like any other profession, farming has its highs and lows. When prices are high and yields are good, being a farmer seems more worth the challenges. It is easy to appreciate this way of life and be positive when everything is going right, but that’s not always the case. Farming can be very trying for both the farmer and their family. Whether it’s wet planting conditions, dry growing conditions or market uncertainty, today’s risk in the industry can weigh heavy on American farmers.

According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health conditions and suicides are sweeping across the Midwest and rural America at an alarming rate. In fact, male farmers in 17 states took their lives at a rate two times higher than the general population in 2012. This number could be even higher than this report indicates because several agricultural states were not surveyed, including Iowa.

It is more important than ever to utilize the resources available for yourself and loved ones while being able to recognize the early signs of mental health issues and stress. A poll conducted by the American Farm Bureau provides a detailed list of signs to look for, like increased substance use, increasing life insurance policies and deterioration of physical appearance. These factors may be indicative of mental health issues.

If you know a farmer, you may think they typically do not want to talk about their problems. Farmers are some of the most humble people and always assume someone is suffering more than they are. While this quality is admirable in some situations, it should not inhibit conversations about mental health. 

Recently, the Sorghum Checkoff hosted Tara Beaver, a California grain crop farmer, on the Sorghum Smart Talk podcast to talk about her efforts to bring more awareness to this issue through a campaign, #MentalHealthMonday. Beaver tells her story about farming and mental health and discusses how she uses social media as a platform to engage in conversations, both on and off the farm. If you are interested in engaging in #MentalHealthMonday follow @beavervineyards on Instagram.

The agriculture industry needs to bring awareness to one message—you are not alone. Many farmers fear the stigma surrounding mental health, and as a result do not seek the help they need. By removing the stigma surrounding mental health in rural America and providing a support system to those who need it, the agriculture community can fight battles and overcome challenges together.

Resources

National Suicide Prevention: 1 (800)-273-8255

Mental Health First Aid

Agrability Resources

Tell-Tale Signs of a Mental Health Crisis for Farmers and Ranchers: American Farm Bureau Federation

In the News

Rural Resilience: American Farm Bureau

Why are America’s Farmers Killing Themselves?: The Guardian

I’m Gonna Lose Everything: Washington Post

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health in Farming: Ohio’s Country Journal

Farmer mental health comes to the forefront as pressing rural need: Ag Daily

#MentalHealthMonday Campaign

Tara Beaver’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beavervineyards/?hl=en

Tara Beaver’s YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx8EMCmT9cXLFYVQ9OIIJGg

Beaver Vineyard’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beavervineyards/

Beaver Vineyard’s Website: https://www.beavervineyards.com/