Workplace Health Saf. 2018 Dec;66(12):606-616. doi: 10.1177/2165079918783211. Epub 2018 Jul 2.
Despite the large body of research and literature on the health and mental health of farmers, we should not assume that research findings necessarily apply to the organic farmer. The limited literature on the mental health of the organic farmer points to potential differences. Research has found that workers on organic farms may be happier than their counterparts; others have identified added sources of stress related to the perceived need of organic farmers to embrace concepts linked to the organic movement. However, further research is needed to identify both risk and protective factors for mental health among organic farmers. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore the psychosocial and contextual factors that may relate to the mental health of the organic farmer. Key informant interviews were conducted with 10 farm producers and 20 farm workers. The findings indicated that respondents recognized mental health as influential in the workplace and the future of organic practices (e.g., the mental, financial, physical stress). Some of the risk factors mentioned by participants reflected those experienced by conventional, nonorganic farmers. Participants also reported contentment with farming as an occupation, the benefits of being connected to the land, feelings of social and environmental responsibility, and engagement in social activities that may promote human and social capital. These feelings and activities ultimately benefit the farmer, contribute to social cohesion, and may have positive implications for mental health. Results suggest that there may be protective mental health factors unique to the organic farmer.