AFBF Survey Finds 2/3 of Farmers Say Pandemic Has Impacted Their Mental Health
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the majority of farmers and farmworkers stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health, and over half of those surveyed stated that they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. AFBF first conducted this survey in 2019 and decided to redo the survey to see how the pandemic has affected the mental health of farmers and their communities, and how the attitude towards mental health has changed in these rural areas.
“My takeaway from this survey is that the need for support is real, and we must not allow lack of access or a ‘too tough to need help’ mentality to stand in the way,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, in a press release. “We are stepping up our efforts through our Farm State of Mind campaign, encouraging conversations about stress and mental health and providing free training and resources for farm and ranch families and rural communities. The pandemic added a mountain of stress to an already difficult year for farmers, and they need to know that sometimes it’s OK not to be OK, that people care, and that there’s help and hope.”
The survey examined farmers in rural areas and found that 3 in 4 stated that mental health is very important to them, which is a 6% increase since April 2019. Additionally, the majority (87%) stated that it is important to reduce the stigma of mental health in the agriculture community, with 59% considering this very important. The survey found that the main challenges faced by farmers when seeking mental health assistance are cost, availability, accessibility, stigma, and embarrassment. Younger farmers, more so than older farmers, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health.
“Critical resources are woefully inadequate and poorly matched to the needs of farmers and ranchers,” Kathy Dothage, director of home and family education at the University of Missouri, said in a press release. “Even when resources do exist, distance and affordability are issues since many self-employed rural families lack health insurance coverage.”
AFBF hosted a virtual session titled “Farm State of Mind- Responding to the Challenges of Rural Mental Health” during its 2021 Virtual Convention on January 12th. For those struggling, AFBF has established a website to help with mental health in the agriculture sector.
Read the rest of the survey results here.