Published on 03/04/24

Farm Stress Summit to address mental health challenges among Georgia farming communities

A wide-angle photo of a farm in the mountains with the text "2024 Farm Stress Summit, March 20, 2024 - Jasper, Georgia" overlaid on the left sideThe 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 feel forced to cope with the pressures of their profession in unhealthy ways, including considering suicide. 

On March 20, University of Georgia faculty, farmers, farm family members, agricultural community members and agricultural mental health stakeholders will convene at the 2024 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. 

“Speakers at the recent Georgia Ag Forecast program in Tifton shared a challenging outlook for 2024. A dimmer profit perspective translates into added stress for many farmers,” said Mark McCann, assistant dean for UGA Cooperative Extension and Agriculture and Natural Resources program leader. “At the core of the Farm Stress Summit is the desire to bring farmers and mental health professionals together, along with agencies and associations that represent both groups, to connect communities with existing resources and establish partnerships to combat farm stress throughout the state of Georgia.”

In 2022, researchers with the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) at the 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 from the University of Georgia School of Social Work.

A keynote from Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kevin Tanner and remarks by Assistant Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Dunn will be followed by a discussion summarizing recent research presented by Christina Proctor, a clinical assistant professor with UGA’s College of Public Health.

The event will also feature a panel of producers, providers and farm health advocates discussing the on-the-ground view of farm stress. Breakout sessions will include suicide prevention training, identification of community strengths and a listening session on faith. 

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

For event details and to register, visit the attendee registration page. To learn more and help share event details, visit the Farm Stress Summit event page.

For more information, please contact event co-hosts Amanda Tedrow or Leigh Anne Aaron.

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