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May is Mental Health Month -- Free Resources Available to NY Farmers

by Brooks Brown

NYFB Assistant Director of Communications


May is Mental Health Month, an important time to raise awareness about mental health and well-being on New York farms. While deeply rewarding, farming comes with unique stressors that can take a toll on mental health. 

Farming is more than a job; in many cases it’s a way of life that is passed down through many generations. With this responsibility come various stressors such as financial instability due to fluctuating markets, unpredictable weather patterns, and the isolation of rural life can all contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. In fact, studies have shown that farmers experience disproportionately high rates of mental health issues compared to the general population.

The demands of farming often extend far beyond the physical labor of tilling fields and caring for livestock. Farmers must also navigate complex business decisions, often with limited resources and support. The pressure to maintain productivity and provide for their families can weigh heavily on their shoulders, leading to chronic stress and burnout.

Farming can also be a solitary profession, with long hours spent working alone in remote areas. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and contribute to a sense of disconnectedness from others. Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental health in rural communities may prevent farmers from seeking help when they need it most.

In New York state, NY FarmNet is an excellent resource for farmers and their families who need mental health assistance. FarmNet’s free consultation services are available to all farmers and farms in New York state, large and small, including dairy, crops, livestock, maple, fruit, vegetables, honey, nursery, and more. We also serve agribusiness professionals (nutritionists, veterinarians, truck drivers, custom operators, etc.) who work directly with farmers through family and personal consulting.

“Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to bring awareness to the fact that farmers face a variety of personal challenges related to the stresses associated with farming. NY FarmNet is committed to supporting NYS agriculture in dealing with mental health issues through our free, confidential consultation services and by providing educational outreach like our Talk Saves Lives suicide awareness and prevention presentations,” said Adam Howell, Outreach Director at NY FarmNet. 

FarmNets family consultants provide services on issues including (but not limited to):
•            Stress-related emotional issues
•            Relationship issues
•            Family and/or parent-child concerns
•            Domestic violence
•            Alcohol and drug concerns
•            Grief/loss
•            Depression and anxiety
•            Farm conflicts and concerns
•            Farm retirement, transfer, or exit adjustment


For more information on FarmNet or to request assistance, call 1-800-547-3276 or visit www.nyfarmnet.org and click the red “Request Services” button. A list of upcoming May Mental Health Month events sponsored by NY FarmNet can be found at this link.


Additionally, American Farm Bureau Federation recently announced a landmark alliance by launching free, anonymous, online mental health and wellbeing services to provide a nationwide safety net of confidential and on-demand support to farmers, ranchers and farm families. Unveiled at the American Farm Bureau Federation 2024 Convention, Farm Family Wellness Alliance’s groundbreaking solution harnesses the best resource to build farm family wellness—access to a community, including a network of farmers and ranchers who understand the challenges and rewards that come with the agricultural way of life.

Access to services starts at Togetherall, a safe, clinically moderated peer-to-peer community, where members around the world are there to listen, support and give members’ mental wellbeing a boost. Through an anonymous profile, users can access a global network of peers, backed by the safeguarding of licensed clinicians overseeing the community around-the-clock. Access to the platform is available to members of a farm family aged 16 and older.

In addition to Togetherall’s global community, farmers and their families will have access to an agricultural sector sub-group to share or read others’ experiences in a safe, judgement-free zone. For more information on these services, go to https://togetherall.com/