Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Natalie Dautovich

Second Advisor

Dr. Tracey Gendron

Third Advisor

Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jean Corcoran

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Faika Zanjani


Prior research has indicated higher risk of suicide for farmers and identified depression and anxiety as mental health concerns, though the majority of research was conducted in the 1980s-1990s. In today’s economic, social, and political climate, farmers are exposed to situations and stressors reminiscent of the 1980s Farm Crisis. An added risk is the aging workforce of farmers, as age-related conditions can make farming even riskier. This study investigated the mental health of a subset of American farmers by exploring farm-related stressors, coping mechanisms, and mental health outcomes. Dispositional mindfulness was explored as a specific coping mechanism. Participants (N = 158) were recruited through in-person and online surveys. All participants were farmers in the United States at the time of the study, with the majority farming in the state of Kentucky (48.7%). Participants were predominantly female (55.4%), White (98.1%), married (77.1%), and multi-generation farmers (69.2%). Participants completed measures of farm stress, general stress, depressive and anxious symptoms, coping, resilience, and dispositional mindfulness. Hierarchical linear regressions and moderation analyses were used to examine study aims. Results showed that farmers in this sample experience rates of depressive symptoms 1.5 times to 4.5 times higher than the national population, as well as rates of anxiety symptoms 1.5 times higher than the national population. Results also revealed that farmers with higher levels of farm stress are at a higher risk for anxious and depressive symptomology. Age appeared to be a protective factor, as older farmers reported the lowest levels of farm stress. Being a female was associated with higher farm stress. Regarding coping, over half of farmers endorsed using “planning” as the top strategy for coping with farm-related stressors. Farmers higher in dispositional mindfulness had better mental health ratings and lower farm stress. Further results and implications of the findings are discussed.


© Janna Lynn Imel

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