Thematic Group on Supporting the Mental Health of Farmers and Farming Communities

rainbow in the sky over grass and a forest

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on mental health challenges in diverse rural EU regions, with a particular emphasis on farmers, who play a pivotal role in bolstering the resilience of these regions. Farmers' mental health can be impacted by several factors, including long working hours, geographical and social isolation, financial uncertainty. Such issues are exacerbated by economic challenges, climate concerns, and increased scrutiny on the farming profession. Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, with the related surge in energy, feed, and fertiliser prices, have added further pressure.

Recent studies in several EU countries underscore the urgent need for comprehensive mental health support for the farming community that take into account the unique challenges of rural life and the specific issues faced by those in the farming profession. On the other hand, access to mental health care for farmers presents significant barriers also due to societal perceptions and a stigma that seeking external help might be inappropriate.

This Thematic Group (TG) aims to identify the most important, urgent and achievable goals to foster the mental health and well-being of farming communities, particularly farmers.

The TG's objectives are to:

  • Identify and discuss barriers (physical, social, economic and personal) that hinder access to mental health support in farming communities.
  • Explore specific strategies and tools to raise/increase awareness of the policy makers, educators, advisors and the public about mental health challenges in farming settings, as well as methods for disseminating information related to mental health support within these communities.
  • Explore successful approaches and best practices from EU Member States or regions that have effectively addressed mental health challenges of farmers in rural areas, as well as discussing the replicability of such practices in other contexts.
  • Discuss how to improve access to mental health support, including measures that could be introduced into relevant policies at different levels (local, regional, national, EU), providing concrete recommendations.

The TG is dedicated to addressing the specific needs of the key target group, namely farmers as part of the wider rural community.

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