Agriculture is considered the backbone of human civilization. The farmers that cultivate crops are fulfilling the needs of the ever-growing population. However, just like everyone else, they are exposed to different issues and problems that may affect their mental health.
Dr. Josie Rudolphi, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, stated that agriculture is a “uniquely stressful industry” because farmers often encounter different circumstances that are beyond their control. According to a nationwide study conducted by Rudolphi’s team in the United States, more than 60% of adolescents living on farms showed symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A separate roundtable discussion revealed that bad weather, inflation, work pressure, and negative connotations against agriculture deeply affect youth’s mental health. While these issues were not new, their impact on mental health was often overlooked and may even result in devastating consequences.
To address the growing concern about youth’s mental health, the Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) in the US shared some ways for families to cope with stressors. Jana Davidson, the program manager for PAF, said parents could be role models in taking care of their mental health. According to her, children seeing their parents practicing good behavior, self-care, and openness will encourage them to do the same.
She also suggested that active listening is vital when the family is together, sharing each one’s positive and negative experiences during the day. It is also important to practice social media breaks and understand the limits of connecting with other people to improve the youth’s mental outlook.
Caring for the mental health of those feeding the population is a vital, yet often overlooked, way to ensure sustainable development and food security.