Farmer Mental Health in the US Midwest: Key Informant Perspectives

Carrie Henning-Smith, Andrew Alberth, Andrea Bjornestad, Florence Becot, Shoshanah Inwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In this study, we seek to illuminate: (1) the ways farm service providers and mental health professionals understand the drivers of farm stress, (2) the strategies, challenges, and opportunities farm service providers and mental health professionals identify for supporting the mental health needs of farm families, and; (3) opportunities for future research and outreach to improve the mental health of farmers in the U.S. Midwest region. We obtained qualitative data from a series of semi-structured key informant interviews with 19 subject matter experts, using content analysis to identify themes across four domains: main challenges, unique impacts by subpopulation, coping strategies, and interventions and recommendations. The key informants we interviewed identified a variety of acute and chronic stressors, including several that are structural, rather than individual and interpersonal, and which lie outside of the control of farmers themselves. They also highlighted diversity within farm populations by socio-demographic and farm characteristics as well as positive and negative coping strategies, with negative being more common. For interventions and recommendations, they stressed the importance of education on mental health, improving access to care, and addressing root causes of stress. While farmer stress is well-documented, less is known about the perspectives of farm service professionals and mental health providers who care for them. The insights from this study add important information on how to best support the immediate and long-term mental health needs of farmers and farm families in the U.S. Midwest and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of agromedicine
Issue number1
Early online dateFeb 28 2021
StatePublished - Feb 28 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded through the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development 2019–2020 Small Grants Program. The authors gratefully acknowledge the key informants who participated in this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Mental health
  • farm families
  • farmers
  • service delivery
  • stress and coping

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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