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COVID taking toll on farmers and ranchers

Created: 1/06/21 (Wed) | Topic: Leadership

A strong majority of farmers/farmworkers say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health, and more than half say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago, according to a new American Farm Bureau poll.

The survey of rural adults and farmers/farmworkers explores how the pandemic has affected their mental health personally and in their communities, as well as how attitudes and experiences around mental health have changed in rural and farm communities since AFBF conducted its first rural mental health survey in 2019.

“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. “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 of 2,000 rural adults was conducted by Morning Consult in December. It also identified the main obstacles to seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition, the most trusted sources for information about mental health, impressions of the importance of mental health in rural communities and the importance of reducing stigma surrounding mental health. A presentation with additional detail on the full survey results is available here.

AFBF will host a session at its 2021 Virtual Convention titled Farm State of Mind – Responding to the Challenges of Rural Mental Health on Tues., Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. Eastern time. The session will feature diverse perspectives on the issue of rural mental health and highlight Farm Bureau’s efforts to respond to this key moment in agriculture. Visit https://annualconvention.fb.org/ to register for the convention and view this session.

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 where you can find crisis hotlines, treatment locators, tips for helping someone in emotional pain, ways to start a conversation and resources for managing stress, anxiety or depression.

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