Farmer mental health in Canada worsened during pandemic, U of G study finds
By University of Guelph
The mental health of farmers is worse than it was five years ago and worse than that of the general population in almost every way, finds a new survey from University of Guelph researchers.
Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and cynicism (two components of burnout), suicide ideation and lowered resilience were all higher among farmers than the national average, the team found. The research was led by Andria Jones-Bitton, a professor in the department of population medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, who has long studied the mental health of farmers.
Jones-Bitton, along with post-doctoral researcher Briana Hagen and MSc student Rochelle Thompson, analyzed the responses of nearly 1,200 Canadian farmers who completed an online version of the Survey of Farmer Mental Health in Canada between February and May 2021.
The research team found that 76 per cent of farmers said they were currently experiencing moderate or high perceived stress.
Many respondents also reported they had been thinking about suicide. Suicidal ideation was twice as high in farmers compared to the general population. Additionally, one in four farmers surveyed reported their life was not worth living, wished they were dead or had thoughts of taking their own life during the past 12 months.
“Some participants left comments to illustrate the stress they were feeling,” Jones-Bitton said. “One said, ‘There is no sick note for farmers. You don’t get paid if you can’t work,’ while another said, ‘The lack of control is very frustrating – lack of control with respect to the weather, input costs and commodity prices are all very stressful.’”
Others mentioned rising fertilizer and fuel prices, as well as supply chain shortages of equipment and parts, as added stressors. |READ MORE