Ag Health and Safety Alliance Stress and Mental Health Starting the Conversation

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The next generation of agriculture is in a unique situation where they are not only struggling with their own personal stress but they are also observing the stress and mental health issues of their family members, which can include parents, grandparents and other family members.

The Ag Health and Safety Alliance’s Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ program focuses on educating the next generation of agriculture by interacting with students at Ag Colleges. Funding from UMASH has enabled us to expand the program to include stress and mental health and assist college Ag students in recognizing signs and symptoms of stress and mental health issues not only for themselves but also for peers and family members.


A Mental Health and Stress Motion Graphic training tool has been developed to serve as a conversation starter during the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ program. This motion graphic is now part of the GearUp for Ag Health and Safety™ program along with discussion points to encourage conversation with students and other individuals who are part of a program.



2020 Project Update

Since December 2019, the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ program with the “Mental Health and Agriculture” motion graphic and discussion points has delivered the program 26 times in the US, Canada, Sweden, Austrailia, and more. The program reached over 1,300 students in 2019 alone. The students responded positively, saying they liked the motion graphic and felt it helps them to think about this issue in a non-threatening way. Several students stated that this is something they are concerned about for others and they were glad it was part of the program. Instructors have also contributed to the discussion with students and agreed that this is an important topic to include in the program.


Mental health questions have also been added to the standardized pre and post survey that is administered to all students who are part of the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ Program. Data from the pre-surveys provides understanding on how students are doing prior to the delivery of the program. Sharing this real data with students gives us the opportunity to open up discussions about the students who are in the program.

47% of the students have observed signs and symptoms of stress and mental health issues in family or friends.

Results from early in the program showed that students were observing stress. 97 students who completed the pre survey indicate that 47% of the students have observed signs and symptoms of stress and mental health issues in family or friends.

In the 2 weeks prior to taking the pre survey:

  • 45% of students stated they were feeling nervous, anxious or on edge
  • 31% stated they were not able to stop or control worrying and
  • 20% reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless.



The Gear Up for AG Health and Safety™ Program is being delivered in many regions of the United States, 5 provinces in Canada with a recent expansion to Australia and Nordic countries. The addition of stress and mental health into our program with the motion graphic has the ability to start this important conversation in many programs around the world.

Cultivating Resilience in Rural Communities Toolkit

This toolkit includes a discussion guide, participant worksheet, video and other materials that discussion leaders can use to plan, prepare and host a group conversation on mental health in agriculture in a community setting. The resources include the “nuts and bolts” of organizing, promoting and hosting a conversational event.