COVID-19 Impacts Mental Health on the Farm

Ernie NeffAgriculture, Survey

farm

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

The survey of rural adults and farmers/farmworkers reveals how the pandemic has affected their mental health and their communities. The survey also explores 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. “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.”

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The results of the new poll clearly demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic is having broad-ranging impacts among rural adults and farmers/farmworkers. Key findings include:

  • Two in three farmers/farmworkers (66 percent) say the pandemic has impacted their mental health.
  • Rural adults were split on COVID-19’s impact. Half of rural adults (53 percent) say the pandemic has impacted their mental health at least some, while 44 percent say it has not impacted their mental health much or at all.
  • Younger rural adults were more likely than older rural adults to say the pandemic has impacted their mental health a lot.
  • Farmers and farmworkers were 10 percent more likely than rural adults as a whole to have experienced feeling nervous, anxious or on edge during the pandemic.
  • The percentage of farmers/farmworkers who say social isolation impacts farmers’ mental health increased 22 percent since April 2019, a significant finding given the long hours many farmers work alone.
  • Half of rural adults (52 percent) aged 18 to 34 say they have thought more about their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater amount than other age groups.
  • Three in five rural adults (61 percent) say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted mental health in rural communities. Farmers/farmworkers were more likely than rural adults to say COVID-19 has impacted mental health in rural communities a lot (37 percent vs. 22 percent).

The survey of 2,000 rural adults was conducted by Morning Consult in December 2020.

See the full poll results here and read more on the subject of agriculture and mental health here.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

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