Washington Farmers and people in rural areas are more comfortable talking about stress and mental health challenges with others, and stigma around seeking help or treatment has decreased in rural and farm communities but is still a factor, according to a new research poll from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF conducted the survey of rural adults and farmers/farmworkers to measure changes and trends in stigma, personal experiences with mental health, awareness of information about mental health resources and comfort in talking about mental health with others. The poll results were compared with previous surveys AFBF conducted in 2019 and 2020 focusing on farmer mental health, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmer mental health, respectively.
“Farm Bureau has been encouraging conversations to help reduce stigma around farmer stress and mental health through our Farm State of Mind campaign,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “This poll shows that we are making a difference, but we all still have work to do. It’s up to each of us to keep looking out for our family, friends and neighbors and let them know they’re not alone when they feel the increasing stress that comes with the daily business of farming and ranching.”
Morning Consult conducted the poll on behalf of AFBF in December 2021 among a national sample of 2,000 rural adults. Key findings include:
• Stigma around seeking help or treatment for mental health has decreased but is still a factor, particularly in agriculture. Over the past year, there has been a decrease in rural adults saying their friends/acquaintances (-4%) and people in their local community (-9%) attach stigma to seeking help or treatment for mental health. But a majority of rural adults (59%) say there is at least some stigma around stress and mental health in the agriculture community, including 63% of farmers/farm workers.
• Farmers/farm workers are more comfortable talking to friends, family and their doctors about stress and mental health than they were in 2019. Four in five rural adults (83%) and 92% of farmers/farm workers say they would be comfortable talking about solutions with a friend or family member dealing with stress or a mental health condition, and the percentage of farmers/farm workers who say they would be comfortable talking to friends and family members has increased 22% since April 2019.
• A majority of rural adults (52%) and farmers/farm workers (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.
A slide deck with additional detail on the full survey results is available here.
AFBF will be featuring two events focused on farmer mental health at the 103rd AFBF Convention in Atlanta, Georgia: a panel discussion with Farm Bureau representatives on Sunday, Jan. 9, at 10:45 a.m. EST, and a QPR mental health training workshop conducted by AgriSafe that offers farmers and farm families skills to recognize and respond to mental health crises using the Question, Persuade and Refer approach, on Monday, Jan. 10, at 2:00 p.m. EST.
If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or has concerns about their mental health, visit the Farm State of Mind website at farmstateofmind.org for information on crisis hotlines, treatment locators, tips for helping someone in emotional pain, ways to start a conversation and resources for managing stress, anxiety or depression.