16 farmers success stories in preventing and overcoming mental health problems related to stress at work

The Agri-Sentinelles Network is a multi-partner network that aims to raise awareness, train and equip volunteer women and men who work in contact with farmers to get involved in suicide prevention, in order to: better identify farmers who are experiencing serious difficulties or who are in psychological distress; orient farmers to facilitate their access to an existing support system; develop attitudes adapted to farmers in fragile situations, without playing the role of social worker or psychologist.
Farmers4Safety Managing Risk Together EIP AGRI Pilot project adopted a ‘peer-to-peer’ mentoring and champion approach to engage farmers in an attitudinal and behavioural change towards farm safety by tackling and improving the social norms around farm safety and emotional wellbeing
Leena operated Leena's home farm together with her husband. There had been chickens on the farm until 1996, after that the farm continued as a crop farm. In addition, Leena was employed outside of the farm and her husband, Timo, had a forest machinery company. In the fall of 2005, the bank manager, upon seeing the couple, asked if the matters regarding final wills were in order. During the week of Christmas, a situation emerged when a mutual will was made. In January 2006, Timo died in an accident. Leena told us us her story about how she had to manage to move forward in such a situation. Although Leena has had moments where she could have been bitter, she has considered it important that there must be some solace.
Diana is a young farmer from Tuscany who has been running her family's winery since 2008. Since she took over the farm, she began to experience anxiety due to the high levels of responsibility she was under, and a loneliness generated by leaving her friendships to move to the countryside. After several years of experiencing these feelings, in 2018 it all spiraled into depression as her children (twins) joined her life and, with them, more pressure and anxiety. It was at this point that she decided to seek professional help and, today, she is able to manage these problems more rationally.
After the takeover is completed, the young farmer plans to build a new barn. An accident causes his mother to be fatally injured. The situation triggered helplessness and speechlessness.
Due to this tragic accident  and the death of his father, the son became  the designated  successor. He was only  12 years old, at the time of his father’s death. a situation full of pressure that  arose in the family farm.
The respite aid scheme was launched in 2017 on a French scale by the French agricultural social security fund MSA in collaboration with the Agricultural Replacement Service. The scheme enables farmers in a situation of professional exhaustion to be relieved by the intervention of a replacement agent on their farm to ensure the continuation of the farm.
Sirkku ja Mika operate two robot milking barns in Finland. When they started on the farm in 1997, they had 20 cows, currently there are 150 cows on the farm. They have made continuous investments. The latest expansion was started in 2020 and the barn with two robots is now operational. We often hear about the end result. Sirkku ja Mika talked about their journey. Everyday was filled with work, construction, and childcare and home care. Along the way, the workload started to become too much and Sirkku became depressed. Sirkku and Mika want to remind us that there is more to life than just construction and work, also during the investment periods.
George  experienced a  number of life issues  that accumulated and built up to a high level of stress  anxiety and  depression culminating in mental  and physical strain. The biggest factor impacting on his situation as expressed by George  situation was  not having the ability to say ‘no’  to anything to be done and asked of him as he felt uncomfortable about saying no in case he would let someone down.
Fiona is a farmer’s wife and the mother of four young adult children. Fiona gave up her off-farm employment to be at home full time and to assist with the running of the farm a couple of years after marrying. She was finding working away from home and having to help out morning and evening with farm work tiring and exhaustive. Fiona highlighted that giving up her employment left her financially dependent on her husband and other members of his family also involved in their farming enterprise. These new circumstance generated feelings isolation, low self-esteem and loss of identity
This case study shows the importance of training in the technical and management  areas  necessary for successful farming. The more prepared farmers are , the more tools  that are made available  the greater the opportunities to prevent situations of uncertainty, which should result in fewer situations that are difficult to manage from an emotional or mental health point of view.
Vojtěch Pýcha is a Czech young farmer that co-owns a 150-hectare arable farm operating as a limited liability company. He manages the day-to-day operations, cultivating crops like cereals, sugar beets, and soybeans. Working alongside his father, they hire seasonal workers during the harvest. However, Vojtěch faces mental health challenges due to a heavy workload, balancing farm responsibilities, studying and external representation of farmers' roles. Recently, the company suffered a €50,000 loss due to declining wheat prices, causing stress and uncertainty. Additionally he has found it difficult to share his struggles as others cannot relate to his unique circumstances.
This case tells the story of a new farmer who moved to the countryside with his family to realise his dream. The demands of the business, his workload and the unexpected  serious illness of his son,  collectively these situations  impacted on family relationships which led to divorce.
Oliver grew up in a large family in the early seventies on a small family farm. He emigrated to find work in that period of his life he became alocholic.Oliver informed me that in his earlier years as a young adult when he was away from home he had an issue with drink that as he expressed unfortunately led him to becoming dependent on alcohol which eventually developed into him becoming alcoholic. His growing dependency on alcohol and its consumption led to regular bouts of depression and anxiety and states of poor physical health.
This case narrates the experience of a farmer who manages a large family farm, including leasing land from third parties and providing services to other farmers. His separation from his wife, having to manage their family environment with two children in custody and suffering from a degenerative illness,  all these situations have contributed to him feeling overwhelmed.
Farmers' financial stress is often a comprehensive issue that can be a widespread issue. Financial stress also affects the personal life of the agricultural entrepreneur, the personal or/and family’s livelihood. Economic challenges cause thoughts that are also related to farm continuity and transgenerational values. There has been financial stress on farms for a long time. Living in constant uncertainty and the fact that farms have to somehow plan ahead at the same time. The investments are big and they are made with an eye to the future, but it is not possible to plan the economy further than maybe a few years at the most at the moment.