Mental Health in Agriculture

May 25, 2022

Mental Health in Agriculture

Mental health is an issue that encompasses many illnesses ranging anywhere from anxiety to depression and eating disorders. Conditions such as these can sometimes escalate quickly and lead to suicidal thoughts or actions if not appropriately treated. Over the past decade, mental health has become a hot topic of discussion. Individuals with platforms have emphasized discussing mental health-related issues publicly and opening up about their struggles. 

However, the mental well-being of farmers is often overlooked, which is why this May, Mental Health Awareness Month, River Valley Cooperative recognizes the struggles that producers face. Currently, individuals employed in the agricultural industry, specifically farmers, have the highest rate of suicide in the nation compared to any other occupation. This data was collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2016 study. The agriculture industry deals with a unique set of challenges that often go unnoticed by the rest of society, and the stresses involved with farming can often become unbearable. Farmers are consistently battling economic uncertainty, labor shortages, high cost of inputs, falling commodity prices, and natural disasters.  

River Valley Cooperative cares about the mental well-being of all our farmer-owners and employees, which is why listed below are suicidal warning signs, online resources available for those battling mental health issues, and the phone number for the national suicide prevention hotline. Seeking help is only the first step in recovering from mental illness, but it is a step in the right direction. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please share the resources listed in this article.   

Signs of suicidal thoughts or actions: 

  • Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol  

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns  

  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities  

  • Withdrawing from family and friends  

  • Obtaining a firearm 

  • Feeling trapped  

  • Unhealthy obsession with death  


Listed below are online resources available to help any individuals experiencing mental health issues. 

  • Iowa’s Center for Agriculture Safety and Health 

  • Iowa Farm Bureau- Stress and Mental Health  


  • Farm and Ranch Well-being  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255 or call 911  

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