The owners and workers of farm businesses experience a unique and high level of uncertainty in terms of weather, finances, business structure, legalities, and social changes. These careers also include physical demands, irregular work schedules, and seasonal labor pressures. Stress often occurs at low but measurable chronic levels within the business. Stress can peak during crisis situations such as financial downturns that have impact on individuals, families, and business operations.
Ohio research identifies two schools of thought regarding farm family stress. One holds that farmers are less stressed than other workers because of the idyllic pastoral setting in which they work. A second cites numerous stressors that are unique to the farm environment (e.g., adverse economic conditions and unpredictable weather) and claims that farming is a stressful occupation. The Ohio Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project (OFFHHS), a survey of 4,860 cash grain farms in Ohio, provides an opportunity to make this comparison, and to study the correlates of stress and depression among farmers.
Learning objectives of the presentation are to increase awareness of stress and the impact on mental health of farm families, to provide available mental health resources for farm and horticulture businesses, to provide strategies to reduce stress among farm families, and to use case studies and/or session activities to demonstrate ways to recognize farm and business stress.