Exploring the feasibility of a start-up incubator intervention to decrease occupational stress and depression in beginning Kentucky farmers
Depression due to occupational stress factors of financial loss, injury or illness, and social isolation is well supported in literature. However, a generation of beginning farmers have not been adequately studied and may be at an increased risk for occupational stress and depression from lack of mentorship and community resources.1-3 Currently, the average age of the Kentucky farmer is 56.2 years, which is driving an urgency for resource development to support our beginning farmers. The future of Kentucky agriculture depends on today’s beginning farmer who will bear the responsibility of maintaining the food chain and agricultural resources in Kentucky, a 5.7 billion dollar industry.4,5 One way to support beginning farmers is to explore associations between occupational stress (farm stress), and depression in order to decrease risk factors that may lead to suicide.6 Although farmer suicide is not a new phenomenon, research to guide prevention measures is a priority to save our beginning farmers.6 After reports of a 34% increase in the suicide rate among the U.S. working age population (persons aged 16–64 years) between 2000 and 2016, a spotlight was placed on research focused on farmer suicide.7-10 Reports reveal that farmers remain more likely to commit suicide than the general population of workers (rate 20.4/100,000). These reports identify the need for a
comprehensive plan for suicide prevention including access to relevant resources, social connectedness, community support, and encouraging communication to decrease stigma related to occupational stress, depression and suicide.8,9 Development of a start-up incubator for the beginning Kentucky farmer including mentorship, resources and community
support may be a pragmatic approach to the complexity of occupational stress and depression.