New Alliance in Ohio to Address Mental Health in Agriculture

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – The weather, rising prices and costs of doing business, long hours and the weight of keeping the family farm in business can cause stress and take a toll on a farmer’s mental well-being.

A new alliance will focus on mental health in agriculture to ensure Ohio’s farmers, families and communities are better equipped to deal with stress.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, The Ohio State University, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation and Farm Credit Mid-America have formed the new Ohio Agricultural Mental Health Alliance.

The group’s first action is introducing a new, anonymous survey to seek feedback directly from rural communities.

“Ohioans look out for one another,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This survey will provide valuable help to numerous communities. I urge our farmers and beyond to answer these tough but necessary questions. You won’t only be helping yourself – you’ll be helping your family and friends.”

The survey aims to gauge stress and how it’s being dealt with. OSU created the survey in partnership with OhioMHAS and ODH. Working with OFB, they used a pilot group to provide feedback.

“Farming communities face different types of stress than those in other occupations, and oftentimes our mental health counselors are unsure of how to handle questions and concerns related to farming,” said Cathann Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at OSU. “This survey will help us all better understand the needs of our farming community and allow us to develop programming to meet the needs of all Ohioans.”

OAMHA will use survey results to determine where resources are needed and help ensure support is available to communities in need.

“Farm stress and mental health has been something that has been talked about in whispers for generations, and it is time to turn up the volume about it,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “This survey will not only shed light on what is causing stress and how those who are struggling with those stressors cope, it will also bring more awareness to this very important issue and help to provide adequate resources to our rural communities.”

The survey is available HERE.

Pictured at top: Photo by  Randy Fath (Unsplash)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.