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Anonymous survey asking Ohio farmers about their stress, mental health

A sunflower field at a Clinton County farm.
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
A sunflower field at a Clinton County farm.

Ohio farmers are invited to take an anonymous survey about their stress and mental health.

From flooding, to crop prices, to encroaching development, and more, today's farmers can be under tremendous stress.

“Farmers that want to talk with a professional about their mental health or farm stress, they want to talk with someone that understands what they're going through."

The Ohio Farm Bureau, Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University created a survey for farmers and other agriculture workers to voice their stressors and access help. The survey is available online until the end of July.

Ty Higgins, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said the survey is looking at three main points.

“This survey is looking at what the stressors are in Ohio agriculture, how farmers and farm workers and agribusiness professionals are dealing, coping with those stresses and then where the resources are and where they aren't,” he said.

Higgins said he hopes this project will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the agriculture community and bring awareness to help that’s available.

There are a number of stressors that farmers can encounter in this day and age including drought, flooding, crop prices and more.

"Are there family issues going on? Is the farm being threatened by development? You know, we need mental health professionals in rural Ohio that are already there, in place to, understand what the challenges of agriculture are," Higgins said.

About 1.5% of U.S. society is involved in agriculture according to Higgins. That can make farmers feel more isolated in their mental health needs.

“Farmers that want to talk with a professional about their mental health or farm stress, they want to talk with someone that understands what they're going through," he said. "So part of this is finding the mental health professionals in rural Ohio, but training them on what's going on in agriculture.”

The project started with the creation of Got Your Back Ohio in 2019 which offers Ohioans working in agriculture help and resources during stressful times.

Ohio State modeled the survey off of research from the Georgia Farm Bureau Foundation.

The Ohio survey opened nine months ago and will remain open through July. Results will be presented in September at the Farm Science Review.

Shay Frank was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. Before working at WYSO, Shay worked as the Arts Writer for the Blade Newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to working at the paper, she worked as a freelancer for WYSO for three years and served as the vice president of the Toledo News Guild. Now located back in the Dayton area, Shay is thrilled to be working with the team at WYSO and reporting for her hometown community.