Breaking The Stigma For Farmer Mental Health

The following editorial is by Green County Farm Bureau member Eric Wuthrich. Edited by Mid-West Farm Report.

There is no doubt that May is a busy time of year. We see trees and flowers blooming, people doing yard work, and farmers doing fieldwork.

While these conditions are relaxing for many, farmers are hard at work. They rely on Mother Nature to cooperate with them so they can get the crop in the ground. As an agribusiness leader and beginning farmer, I have firsthand experience with the toll busy seasons can have on mental health.

According to a study conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, mental health is something that many farmers, farmworkers, and rural adults struggle with. However, the stigma and cost associated with treatment are hindering them from seeking necessary treatment.

Farmers and farmworkers who were surveyed said financial issues, farm or business problems, and fear of losing the farm have the greatest impact on their mental health. Other factors included stress, weather, the economy, isolation, and social stigma.

Three in four rural adults (75%) said it’s important to reduce stigma about mental health in the agriculture community, while two in three farmers/farm workers (66%) said the same.

A healthy farm is nothing without a healthy farmer. Early mornings lead to late nights in the barn or tractor cab, which can take a toll both physically and mentally on our farmers. Mental health is just as important as physical health; eating right, making time to get a proper night’s rest and finding ways to relax are just a few things that can help improve both.

Farming can be an isolating career and it is time to end the stigma surrounding mental health. Some farmers will go days and even weeks without leaving the farm or talking to people other than their family when the work needs to be done. Relationships are a preventative tool for coping with stress and a lifeline for those who are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance misuse.


Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Farm Neighbors Care campaign asks rural residents to have conversations with their farm neighbors and check in on them not only during busy times but all times throughout the year. Whether you are a neighbor, friend or stranger, a simple phone call or stopping by the farm could make a farmer’s day.

There is a wealth of additional mental health resources available here in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Farm Center’s Farmer Wellness Program provides counseling services, including the 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline, (888) 901-2558.

Similarly, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week simply by dialing 988.

It is okay to not be okay, but it is not okay to go at it alone. Small gestures can have a big impact, and I encourage you to take the opportunity to check in on your rural neighbors to show them exactly why farm neighbors care.