Article

The mental health of farmers

Rural Mental Health Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
Occupational Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.03). 01/2003; 52(8):471-6. DOI: 10.1093/occmed/52.8.471
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Farmers are subject to a number of unique occupational stressors, many of which have been aggravated in recent years by changes in farming practice and by economic factors. These are probably part of the explanation for the high rates of suicide in farmers and farm workers, which in the UK account for the largest number of suicides in any occupational group. Suicide is usually associated with mental illness, which, in farming communities, appears to be particularly stigmatized and poorly understood. This affects health-seeking behaviour, which is compounded by the geographical isolation and inaccessibility of many services in rural areas. Our current understanding of these issues suggests a number of potentially valuable interventions.

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    • "Time pressures are not only related to the amount of work that farmers have to do, as illustrated by long working hours, but are rendered particularly stressful because of the unpredictability and the seasonal variation in the workload. The most important stressors in farmers' lives appear to be worries about finance (Hawton, Simkin & Malmberg, 1998) and the burden of paperwork and administration (McGregor, Willock & Deary, 1995; Gregoire, 2002). In other industries scholars have explored the relationship between business performance and concepts similar to mood. "

    Preview · Article · Jan 2015
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    • "Consistent with other publications regarding rural studies (Faria et al., 1999; Gregoire, 2002) or studies with the general population (Costa et al., 2002), women have higher MPD prevalence than men, even when analysing SRQ-20 using a higher cut-off point for women. In their validation study Mari and Williams (1986) recommended a lower score for men (due to a higher false negative rate in men) considering gender differences in illness behaviour. "
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    • "This discursive framework connects structural conditions with farm men by establishing linear connections between economy , financial stress, mental illness and suicide. Within this framework a psychosocial problematization dominates with an emphasis on stress and depression, help-seeking behaviour and social conditions that contribute to poor mental health such as lack of service provision in rural areas, social isolation and social change (Alston, 2007; Berry et al., 2011; Gregoire, 2002; Guiney, 2012; Judd et al., 2006; Meyer and Lobao, 2003; Monk, 2000; Staniford et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: In the international literature farmer stress, mental illness and suicide are linked to economic conditions affecting farm viability that have emerged in relation to the neoliberal transformation, corporatization and globalization of agribusiness juxtaposed with climate change and concerns over environmental sustainability and periodic agricultural crises. Research and scholarship in this area has largely been framed through mental health frameworks informed by positivist and ‘psy’ discourses that marginalize ethical, political and emotional dynamics that shape farmer distress. At the margins of this dominant discursive framework however, interdisciplinary scholarship is emerging that problematizes farmer distress and suicide. This paper extends and contributes to this body of scholarship through insights derived from critical consideration of the operation of a moral economy in relation to farmer distress. It draws on elements of Andrew Sayer's work, which poses intersections between moral economy, political economy and wellbeing, to analyse empirical data from interviews with Australian wine grape growers experiencing distress. The paper demonstrates that in this case study, emotional distress arises from ethical breaches within social and economic relations between farmers, corporations and the State. In doing so, it brings the ethical and emotional dimensions of economic activity to the fore and thus calls for the problematization of social and political responses to farmer distress and suicide prevention.
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