BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)–The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has created a new initiative to provide mental health support to the agricultural community in Massachusetts.

The MassGrown Wellness Program is for farmers experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, or other mental health challenges. It includes a toolkit with videos, fact sheets, and other resources designed to help farmers identify factors that may be impacting their mental wellbeing and start the conversation about mental health.   

A Peer Support Network is expected to become available later this year, providing an opportunity for farmers to connect with and speak to other farmers facing similar issues. Groups will provide support services for veterans, people of color, LGBTQIA+, women, and all members of the Massachusetts agricultural community. 

“As MDAR continues to build the foundation of the MassGrown Wellness Program, we are focused on intentional engagement with farmers and the stakeholder community,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “Ongoing training sessions are bringing to light the resources that are most needed and informing the development of our online suite of resources and mental health toolkit. The trainings are an important step toward establishing a peer-to-peer network to offer mutual support statewide.” 

The program was created after a web-based survey of statewide farmers and agricultural community stakeholders that identified the most pressing concerns facing members of this community. 85% of respondents reported some level of mental health impact as a result of working in the agricultural sector.