Farm Stress Summit to Spotlight Mental Health Challenges Among Georgia’s Farming Communities

Staff Report

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

The prevalence of mental health challenges experienced by farm families and farming communities in Georgia is staggering. Faced with unfavorable weather, unfriendly economic conditions, labor shortages and more, farmers of all types often cope with the pressures of their profession in unhealthy ways, including considering suicide.  

In 2022, researchers with the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC), at Mercer University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture published a study based on surveys completed by more than 1,600 Georgia farmers, spouses, farm managers and farmworkers. The survey documented concerning levels of stress, negative coping strategies and suicidal ideation. This study reinforced earlier studies by the University of Georgia School of Social Work.

On March 20, a group of farmers, farm family members, agricultural community members and agricultural mental health stakeholders will meet at the 2024 Spring Farm Stress Summit to look for opportunities to support Georgia’s farm families in ways that promote improved well-being. The event will be held at the Appalachian Campus of Chattahoochee Technical College in Jasper, Georgia.  

The event includes opening remarks by Mark McCann, Ph.D., assistant dean for extension at the University of Georgia, a keynote address from Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) Commissioner Kevin Tanner, and remarks by Assistant Deputy Commissioner of DBHDD Jennifer Dunn. A discussion summarizing recent topic research will be presented by Christina Proctor, Ph.D., MPH, of UGA’s College of Public Health. The event also features a panel of producers, providers and farm health advocates discussing the on-the-ground view of farm stress. Breakout sessions including Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training, Community Strengths Finding and a Farm & Faith listening session. 

The Farm Stress Summit is hosted through a partnership between the Georgia Agricultural Wellness Alliance, UGA Cooperative Extension, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, UGA School of Social Work, UGA College of Public Health, UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Foundation for Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.  

For 2024 Farm Stress Summit event details and to register, visit Farm Stress Summit 2024 Attendee Registration.  To learn more and help share event details, visit the Farm Stress Summit Event Page.

Partners and organizations are welcome to be a part of the summit’s free share fair/exhibit area and may register for exhibitor space at 2024 Farm Stress Summit Exhibitor Registration. The deadline to register as an exhibitor is March 1.  

For more information, please contact event cohosts Amanda Tedrow ([email protected]) or Leigh Anne Aaron ([email protected]).