Mental Health in Agriculture 

The upcoming holiday season can house a lot of feelings for the agricultural community. Farmers are hardwired to prioritize the wellness of those around them, especially when it comes to caring for and tending to the needs of animals that help feed the world and ensure food security. However, it is equally as important for farmers to prioritize their own wellness.  

Mental health and physical health depend on each other. And, often, farmers can help one another identify when their mental health may need a check-up. 

Tips for Mental Health and Wellness

It is crucial for farmers to check in with themselves and others during trying times like the present where the pork industry is facing one of its most difficult periods. 

The following Q&A with AgriSafe Network, a non-profit organization representing health professionals and educators to reduce health disparities among the agricultural community, helps remind all of us about the importance of mental health and shares resources that can support agricultural communities.  

Q: How does mental health relate to total farmer health and why is this such an important topic? 

A: The Total Farmer Health model represents a holistic view of health for farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and their families. Mental health and physical health are not separate states. They both synergistically influence our health every day. Mental wellbeing is embedded in all aspects of Total Farmer Health.   

Q: What should people who are involved in agriculture take into account about mental health? 

A: Many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producer. Good health, including mental health, is a key factor that contributes to one’s ability to keep farming. Twenty percent of any population has mental health complications, including farmers and ranchers.  

Q: What are signs to keep in mind for yourself or family members? 

A: There are a variety of warning signs indicating a person may be at risk. This can include changes in sleep and/or eating patterns, increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawal from family, friends and routines, increased irritability, and more. View a more detailed list in AgriSafe’s Agricultural Mental Health fact sheet. 

Q: What should someone do if they or someone they know may be struggling? 

A: Express a genuine interest in their well-being. Approach the conversation from a place of caring and concern. You may need to lead with something you’ve noticed that concerns you (e.g. haven’t seen them in a while, they don’t seem their regular self). Ask them if they want to talk. If they share what is going on, praise their willingness to open up and listen. If they don’t want to share, respect their right to do so.  Continue to offer yourself when they are ready.  

Asking an individual about their mental health won’t make it worse. In fact, many people want others to notice or ask. If someone is actively threatening harm to themselves or others, call 911. 

Q: What specific resources are available? 


  • 1-833-897-2474, AgriStress Helpline: Suicide crisis/resource line answered by crisis specialists trained in agriculture that understand the values and pressures in agricultural communities. Available 24/7 by call and text.  Currently in the following states: Texas, Missouri, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington, Montana, and Colorado.  
  • 988, Lifeline: National suicide crisis line. Available 24/7 by call and text. 
  • AgriSafe’s QPR for Agricultural Communities: Suicide intervention/prevention gatekeeper. This 1.5 hour training for all communities gives you the confidence to help someone in crisis get help. AgriSafe hosts free monthly trainings.  
  • FarmResponse®: Agricultural mental health training for healthcare professionals of all types. Training is on demand with 3.5 hours of content and a variety of options for CEs. AgriSafe has funding to support seats at no charge in many states.   
  • AgriSafe’s Mental Health and the Impact on Wellness for Farm Families fact sheet: This resource can be distributed at agricultural community events and is available in a free printable download in both English and Spanish.  
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): The largest national grassroots mental health organization dedicated to education, resources, and advocacy for a wide range of mental health concerns. 

Q: When it comes to mental health, are there any watch outs of things not to do? 

A: Avoid making statements that include “you should” or “you need to.”  Refrain from saying “I don’t trust you to….” which could make them feel defensive and less willing to open up. Do not walk away from a situation that concerns you without asking. Do not feel like you must fill the conversation with your words, allow them time to share and think.  Do not feel like you have to know all the answers, listening is the greatest of all gifts.  

Finally, you do not need to feel like you should navigate this encounter alone. You can call the AgriStress Helpline or 988 if you aren’t sure of next steps or ask someone they trust to step in. 

Taking Care of You 

At NPB, we’re here to reaffirm our commitment to supporting each other through thick and thin. Right now is an opportune time to reflect on the year, but it is also a time to check in with yourself, your family and your neighbors. It is okay to not be okay. There are resources available to help through hard times. 

Together, we will navigate through the toughest challenges and by prioritizing wellness in agriculture we can foster more resilient and healthy farming communities.