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State Agricultural Department Highlights Mental Health Resources for Farming Community During Mental Health Awareness Month 

BostonIn recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is raising awareness of its MassGrown Wellness Program. The program was launched in 2023 to promote mental health and well-being among members of the farming community.

The program’s Peer Support Network connects individuals to like-minded peers who understand the unique challenges of farming. This network is designed to break down the barriers to starting conversations and removing the stigma associated with mental health and wellness.

“As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, I understand how demanding and stressful farming can be. Our farmers have always been resilient and resourceful in tackling the challenges of their work, but it’s important we provide resources to prioritize their mental health,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “Our priority is letting our farmers know that there are people who care and are ready to listen, and there is a network of farmers available across Massachusetts available to discuss their challenges and work with them to improve their mental well-being.”

Farming can be an incredibly demanding and challenging profession. Farmers have to cope with a range of unique stressors, such as the scarcity of days off, ever-changing and often unpredictable weather, inflation, volatile markets, and labor shortages. These stressors can create an overwhelming emotional burden for farmers, who may be hesitant to seek help.

The MassGrown Wellness Peer Support Network is a group of volunteer farmers who are trained in listening skills, problem-solving, and resiliency building. A conversation with a Farmer Peer will:

  • Help farmers address situations that may feel overwhelming;
  • Assist farmers in recognizing their strengths and use them to improve conditions;
  • Discuss problem-solving;
  • Make the farmer feel heard by listening to their concerns; and,
  • Help figure out the next steps.

The Peer Support Network is a free, ag-friendly resource for Massachusetts farmers and growers. It is anonymous and virtual so those who seek and receive support can do so confidentially and conveniently.

The MassGrown Wellness Program and Peer Support Network are part of a USDA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) funded program developed to help address the mental health and well-being of farmers and those that support them in Massachusetts. Farmers can find a Farmer Peer by going to the following link: MassGrown Wellness Peer Support Network | Mass.gov.

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