Conversations About Mental Health A Priority In Today’s Farming Community

May has come and gone, but that does not mean the issue of mental health is done for another year. The Farming community used last month, National Mental Health Awareness Month, to highlight the growing challenges of mental health struggles in the farming community. Josie Rudolphi with the University of Illinois Urbana said the frequency of anxiety and depression is higher among the agriculture community than the non-farming community.

“Depending on the study the prevalence of depression ranges from 6%-50% among agricultural workers whereas in the general population we see the prevalence of depression at about 7%.  And when we talk about anxiety, we see very similar statistics.”

Rudolphi said there are many pressures impacting today’s farmer, from personal finances, global economic issues such as trade, time pressures, and not to mention interpersonal relationships on and off the farm. She added as friends and family, we need to watch for changes in behavior.

“And if we notice someone not sleeping like they usually do and they’re not eating like they usually do or they become easily irritated and they are typically much more patience, or they just constantly seem to be upset, that’s a really great time to ask a couple of questions.  And we can do that out of concern, and some people may say ‘is it my business?’, and I would say if this is your friend or your family member or if this is somebody you care about, it is absolutely your business.”

Rudolphi added it’s vital for the farming community to remove the stigma of mental health and asking for help. She added a recent study shows as many of 31% of rural adults have personally sought help for a mental health condition, and 24% have a family member who has sought care for a mental health condition.

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