Network of Young Farmers Provides Mental Health Supports
Monday, May 15, 2023
Young farmers in the United States face extensive structural barriers affecting their mental health, according to a new survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition.
A lack of affordable health care and housing as well as access to land is taking a toll on farmers just starting their career, as well as farmers of color.
Jac Wypler, farmer mental-health director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, said mental decline can lead to poor decision-making and higher risk of injury.
"Farmer mental health truly can lead to farms being less viable," Wypler pointed out. "Farmers being less capable to do the work of the farm, as well as leaving the farming profession."
Wypler noted low pay for farmworkers and even food insecurity are also leading to farmer burnout. Advocates have created a bilingual mental health hotline for farmers at 1-800-FARM-AID and are cultivating a growing network of young farmer leaders working to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
The 2018 Farm Bill was the first to direct funding toward farmers' mental health and advocates are hoping the 2023 Farm Bill will offer even more.
Wypler acknowledged Americans' appreciation for farmers and the challenges they face grew during the pandemic, but stressed continued support is needed.
"A functioning healthy food system requires healthy farmers and farmworkers, and that includes their mental health," Wypler contended.
Cultivemos, a network for farmer and farmworker well-being in the Northeast, has regranted federal dollars to more than ninety organizations working to improve farmers' mental health through training and peer mentoring.
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