- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Media Contact for The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month with Launch of MassGrown Wellness Program
Danielle Burney, Deputy Communications Director
BOSTON — BOSTON – In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month and in recognizing mental health as a growing concern amongst the agricultural community in the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) recently launched a brand-new initiative called the MassGrown Wellness Program that adds additional support for our farmers and growers through a robust toolkit of resources. The program targets farmers experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, or other mental health challenges.
This toolkit is designed to help farmers identify potential stressors that may be impacting their mental wellbeing. The comprehensive toolkit includes videos, fact sheets, and other resources that will help the farming community to identify signs of crisis, find resources, and start the conversation about mental health.
“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.”
“I am so thankful to MDAR for taking the time and effort to tackle this important issue and I’m hopeful that the MassGrown Wellness program will help those in the agricultural community receive access to the resources they need," said Meghan C. Riley, Agricultural Educator at the Plymouth County Extension Service.
Since the program launched in the fall of 2022, a total of 17 training sessions, both in-person and virtual, have taken place with nearly 100 participants. In the coming months, a Peer Support Network will be established for the farming community in Massachusetts.
The peer-to-peer network will provide a safe space 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.
The MassGrown Wellness Program is the result of a comprehensive 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. The survey results informed MDAR’s approach by clarifying how farmers and other agricultural community members access mental health resources, the challenges they face when seeking care, and the reasons why some may resist outreach to providers.
About MassGrown Wellness
The MassGrown Wellness program is designed to address the mental health and wellness needs of those within the Massachusetts agricultural community and its supporters. The program specifically targets issues directly impacting the Commonwealth’s farmers, agricultural stakeholders, and other farming community organizations, such as financial difficulties, depression, and other issues. Through MassGrown Wellness, MDAR will provide the agricultural community with critical resources to enhance their access to mental health services.
MDAR’s mission is to cultivate a robust and equitable agricultural economy, promote a safe and resilient food system, and preserve a healthy environment for Massachusetts farmers, animals, and consumers. Through its five divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Produce Safety – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr.