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Rural Health Information Hub

Mental Health Program Considerations for Rural Farmers

Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers can experience many stressors due to their unique agricultural work environment. Weather, market prices, labor shortages, and financial difficulties can increase farm stress and other mental health challenges among farmers and farm families. In 2021, the American Farm Bureau Federation found that 2 in 5 farmers had personally sought care from a mental health professional. A majority of farmers cited the cost, accessibility, and availability of treatment, as well as stigma, particularly among community and family members, as barriers to seeking mental health treatment.

Rural programs looking to support farmers should consider implementing models that improve access to mental health services. Many farmers report viewing friends and family as trusted sources of mental health information. Rural mental health programs may consider offering mental health trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid, to community members trusted by farmers.

Other action steps for supporting farmers' mental wellness include:

  • Training primary care physicians, therapists, and other mental health providers on the basics of the agriculture industry and mental health challenges associated with this work to build trust and rapport with farmers
  • Offering vouchers to farmers to help cover the cost of mental healthcare services
  • Improving accessibility to mental health services and programs by meeting farmers where they are comfortable, potentially in less clinical settings
  • Integrating primary care and mental healthcare to better facilitate mental health screening and treatment
  • Offering non-traditional support during busy farming seasons by providing childcare or meals for farm families

For additional information on how to address farmers' mental health, visit our Rural Response to Farmer Mental Health and Suicide Prevention topic guide.

Resources to Learn More

Farmer Angel Network
Highlights an example of a program in Sauk County, Wisconsin, that provides mental health and suicide prevention education, resources, and fellowship to agricultural communities in their geographic area.

The Farmer Mental Health Crisis: Understanding a Vulnerable Population
Provides an overview of the unique barriers farmers face in seeking mental healthcare and how to overcome them.
Organization(s): Farm Aid, American Psychological Association
Date: 7/2019