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Mental health and well-being of EU farmers in the spotlight

Feb 14, 2024 | Press releases

 [25 January 2024] – In a pivotal seminar convened by the SafeHabitus project at the European Parliament on January 25th, the spotlight was cast on the pressing challenges impacting the mental health of farmers and farm workers. The event, hosted by MEPs Maria Walsh and Petri Sarvamaa, gathered a large group of farmers, rural mental health organisations, farmer representatives, and policy makers. Together, they dug into the issues and potential solutions surrounding mental health in the agricultural sector.

MEP Maria Walsh, setting the tone for the seminar, underscored the urgency of prioritising mental health within the farming community. She asserted, “Mental health can no longer be an afterthought. We need better programs that truly connect with farmers, engaging in meaningful conversations not just about them, but with them.”

Throughout the seminar, speakers shed light on the consequences of stressors on farmers’ well-being and the future sustainability of agriculture. Emphasising the need for proactive and sustainable solutions, the discussions incorporated insights from farmers and their advocates. Both in-person and online attendees heard firsthand about the evolving landscape of farming and its implications for individuals, families, and rural communities. Notably, the increasing unpredictability associated with weather and markets, coupled with policy developments at the EU level, emerged as significant stressors undermining the capacity of some to cope with the daily pressures of farming. You can find all the presentations of the speakers here.

Alun Jones, leader of the SafeHabitus Policy and Governance Programme, emphasised, “EU and national policymakers and stakeholders were united in echoing the urgency of the situation in farming and the imperative to address mental health challenges in the sector. This discussion is particularly relevant to the EC´s Strategic Dialogue on the future of agriculture.”

In a closing statement, SafeHabitus Coordinator, Dr David Meredith, struck a note of optimism, saying, “For me, the main message that I take from this seminar is one of hope and optimism. Yes, there are challenges, but we heard from practitioners and policy makers that they understand the issues, the need for action and, most importantly, the roll out of practical solutions.” This seminar marks the commencement of a series of SafeHabitus Policy Seminars, designed to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing among policy-makers, stakeholders, practitioners, and researchers. Funded by Horizon Europe as part of the SafeHabitus project, the seminar was organised by CIHEAM Zaragoza with the support of TEAGASC, GEOPA, CEJA and AEIDL.