URBANA, Ill. — Agriculture is a stressful occupation, and farmers face substantial mental health challenges. Research indicates they often experience higher levels of anxiety and depression compared to the general population, but less is known about the effects on their families. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign explores how economic stressors affect the mental health of U.S. farmers and their adolescent children.
“There's a lot of young people growing up on a farm and participating in agricultural work. We've long acknowledged the inherent hazards of this work environment, and now we’re also recognizing its impact on mental health,” said Josie Rudolphi, Illinois Extension specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE), part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and The Grainger College of Engineering at the U. of I.
Rudolphi and co-author Richard Berg, analyst at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, are reporting results from the first year of a five-year study funded by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. The researchers conducted online surveys with farmers and their adolescent children across the United States.
Rudolphi and Berg found that about 60% of both adults and adolescents met the criteria for at least mild depression, while 55% of the adults and 45% of the adolescents met the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder.
Read the full release from the College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences
Photo: Josie Rudolphi, agricultural and biological engineering professor, is conducting a five-year study on the mental health of agricultural adolescents and adults. Photo by Fred Zwicky.
Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.