Ohio farmer mental health

Farmers provide. We are shepherds, committed to treating our families and the earth right. 

Are we doing the same for ourselves?

We’re focused on so many things, and rightfully so, but most likely none of them can grow without us being healthy.

It’s time farmers, our families and our communities ask a tough question.

Are we OK?

It’s easy to brush off stress. It’s easy to push it down and instead focus on what’s in your field, or in your barn, or under your roof. It’s easy to think that not being mentally tough is weak.

It’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite.

It takes someone strong to realize help is out there. It’s confidential and it’s free.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has joined the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, The Ohio State University and other state agencies and organizations to create a new, first-of-its-kind anonymous survey to address mental health on our farms, within our families and in our communities.

2023 Mental Health SurveyThis survey will help the experts offer the most helpful resources to you, to make sure you continue to thrive in agriculture. By scanning the QR code with your phone, or clicking this link, you can take the survey. Again, you will stay anonymous.

Please know the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a free, confidential resource, is always available to anyone going through struggles and at any stage. It’s OK to reach out by calling, texting, or chatting, after a tough day, week, or month.

The most recent information from the Ohio Department of Health shows that in 2021, 1,766 died by suicide. 

In that year:
  • Suicide was the second-leading cause of death in Ohio for people 10-34 years old.
  • Adults 25-44 had the highest rate of suicide in our state.
  • For men, ages 75 and up had the highest rate of suicide.
  • For women, it was ages 45-54.

Stress affects everyone.

It’s hard to talk about ourselves, even for me. 

I’ve dealt with farm stress throughout my entire life. Running a seventh-generation family farm comes with its share of worries. And the pressure to carry on the family legacy has kept me up on many occasions wondering if this is how my ancestors would have handled a big decision with our farm, like increased costs of doing business each year and how I will make the mortgage. 

The what ifs seem to stay with us longer than anything.

I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to mental health struggles. I still question if I should have seen the signs.

I think I can call a spade and spade and say I could have done more. I could have checked in. I could have kept going after the jokes and light conversation. 

Our burdens carry a lot of weight. By opening up, you are lightening your load and able to take on more. Farmers are selfless. By doing this, you are absolutely not putting that load on someone else. You are not imposing. You are not weak. 

By talking about it, we can erase the stigma that comes with mental health. 

I am more than a farmer and the director of our great state’s Department of Agriculture. I am a father and a grandfather. I want them to know that, just like my farm, I am here to help them grow. I am here to make sure their lives are better than my own. To me, that involves a little discipline and a lot of love, including teaching them to love themselves.

As a farmer, you have a lot on your plate. It’s your hard work that puts food on the table for all Ohioans. One of the best things about being part of the farming community is that it’s tight-knit. From all corners of the state, we can understand what one another is going through. 

So, when you want to talk, we are here.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: