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Mental health talks get easier

Jonathan Kirn/Getty Images farmer looking off into the distance across a snow-covered cornfield
MORE OPEN: According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult in December, the percentage of farmers and farmworkers who say they would be comfortable talking to friends and family members about mental health increased 22% since April 2019.
An American Farm Bureau-funded survey shows 92% of farmers and farm workers are comfortable talking with family or a friend about stress and mental health.

A poll funded by the American Farm Bureau Federation found that farmers and rural residents are more comfortable talking about stress and mental health and that stigma around getting help has slightly decreased.

Morning Consult, a data research and analysis company, conducted the online poll between December 10-18, 2021, among a national sample of 2,000 rural adults. Results were compared to national surveys conducted in 2019 and 2020.

Highlights include:

• Mental health talks easier. Farmers and farmworkers are more comfortable talking to friends, family and their doctors about stress and mental health than they were in 2019. Four in 5 rural adults (83%) and 92% of farmers and farmworkers say they would be comfortable talking about solutions with a friend or family member dealing with stress or a mental health condition. Nearly half of rural adults (48%) and two in five farmers and farmworkers (44%) say they are more comfortable talking to their doctor about personal experiences with stress and mental health compared to a year ago. The percentage of farmers and farmworkers who say they would be comfortable talking to friends and family members has increased 22% since April 2019.

• Stigma around seeking help for mental health has decreased. The stigma is still a factor in agriculture, however. Most rural adults (59%) say there is at least some stigma around stress and mental health in the agriculture community, including 63% of farmers and farmworkers. A quarter (28%) of rural adults say there is more stigma around stress and mental health in the agriculture community compared to a year ago, while 12% say there is less stigma.

• More awareness of resources. Half (53%) of farmers and farmworkers say they are more aware of resources to help manage stress and mental health than they were a year ago

• Financial issues top mental health stress list. Farmers and farmworkers are most likely to say financial issues (80%), weather or other factors beyond their control (82%), and the state of the farm economy (80%) affect farmers’ mental health. Similarly, about half of rural adults think financial issues (54%), fear of losing the farm (53%), an uncertain future (46%), and the state of the farm economy (46%) impact the mental health of farmers a lot.

• Stress, mental health challenges rising. A majority of rural adults (52%) and farmers and farmworkers (61%) are experiencing more stress and mental health challenges compared to a year ago, and they are seeking care because of increased stress. Younger rural adults are more likely than older rural adults to say they are experiencing more stress and mental health challenges compared to a year ago, and they are more likely than older rural adults to say they have personally sought care from a mental health professional.

Consistent with tracking over the past three years, about a third of rural adults say they have personally sought care from a mental health professional. Consistent with results from 2020, 2 in 5 farmers and farmworkers (41%) say they have personally sought care from a mental health professional.

• More mental health information sought, acceptance increasing. Over the past year, rural adults say they have seen more information about mental health, and there is increased acceptance for seeking help for stress or mental health issues. Rural adults say they have seen more information over the past year about stress and mental health from social media (35%) and government agencies (26%). Two in 5 of those involved in agriculture say there is more acceptance in the agricultural community for seeking help for stress and mental health today compared to a year ago, including 41% of farmers and farmworkers.

The Morning Consult survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Read the complete survey online, Farmer and Rural Perceptions of Mental Health.

 

TAGS: Farm Life
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