Farmer Mental Health

Written by Page Jennings

April 26, 2021

Farmers are the unsung heroes of the world. They work tirelessly to provide fresh and healthy produce and other sustainable food sources for the masses, and yet very seldom get the credit they deserve. According to ADAMA, which is a website dedicated to farmers advocacy and education, farmers shape the landscape we live in, heat our homes and are advocates for a brighter and greener future. Yet there is a dark side to farming, one that consists of debt, suicide and a mental health crisis that is sweeping the globe. According to one article,

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people worldwide experience issues with their mental health annually. If farmers experience problems with their mental health at the same rates as the general population, this would mean that approximately 25% of farmers worldwide are struggling with their mental health every year. Globally, there are more than 570 million farms, of which approximately 550 million are family-run. With a conservative estimate of 2-member families, this would mean that every year, roughly 225 million farmers worldwide may struggle with their mental health. 

These mental health concerns may be directly linked to issues that farmers face, such as fear of not being able to provide for their families, stress of a bad crop season, or strain from large grocery chains to fulfill ever increasing food demands. Recently, in India, a country where 60% of the population works in agriculture, climate change has affected the yield that low-income rural farmers can produce and has in turn negatively impacted the mental health of these farmers. Threat to property, income and crops has heightened risk of suicide, with one study finding that India averaged 28 suicides a day from the farming community.  

Farming is a multi-generational business, with 98% of the farms worldwide owned by families. The risk of losing generational wealth and not being able to provide for future generations puts undue stress on the entire family unit. The loss of the head of the family from suicide or old age also places the burden directly on the family to provide.    

Despite this bleak outlook, there is hope in the form of the Apportis tele-behavioral health platform.  This platform enables case managers to provide assistance to farmers and their families with mental health concerns. It does not require wifi, an asset that is especially important to those living in rural communities. By being able to quickly and securely meet with a case manager to discuss concerns or goals, these farmers have the ability to get help when and where they need it.  Because farmers often do not have the luxury to take time off from work, the Apportis platform reduces barriers to time, transportation and childcare, while providing screen to screen access to helpful case managers.  

Additionally, resources can be loaded onto the platform that can be accessed by a farmer in crisis at any time. These may include a variety such as hotline numbers, financial literacy, farmer advocacy, information on farmers with disabilities, and breathing exercises to reduce anxiety. 

Farmers help shape the world and their mental health is paramount. Apportis is an advocate for farmer mental health, and you can be too. Start by looking at the links below.  

https://www.adama.com/en/our-commitment/global-farming/farming-stories/farmers-shaping-the-world  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894791/  

https://letmebreathe.in/2020/08/21/the-burning-mental-health-of-farmers/ 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/india-farmers-suicide-1.5968086 

https://ofbf.org/2020/04/02/mental-health-care-vital-as-farmers-concerns-grow/

https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/farmer-mental-health  

https://www.farmaid.org/blog/fact-sheet/why-farmers-face-unique-threats-from-stress/ 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X15001217

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