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Mental health has gained significant awareness across the United States (U.S.) in the past decade. Some communities in the U.S. however, have only recently begun to address this topic. Importance of mental health is expanding within the agriculture community. One reason for this could be low levels of mental health within this community. For instance, males in the U.S. agriculture sector had a suicide rate of over one and half times the national average in 2015. Mental health concerns have been increasing in a particular sector in agriculture more recently, the dairy industry. Some of the main reasons for decreasing mental health in the dairy sector include low milk prices, excess supply, economic hardships, and retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico and Canada. With the ongoing trend of negative economic returns for dairy farmers projected to continue through 2020, there is no better time to address mental health concerns for dairy farmers. This study will focus specifically on dairy producers in the Midwest state of Illinois. 2018 brought about the lowest net returns per cow since 2012 at a negative $747. Combining negative returns with increasing feed costs and continued low milk prices and the importance of this topic is realized. The five objectives that this study is focused on are: identifying mental health service options preferred by Illinois dairy farmers willing to seek help, quantifying tradeoffs that Illinois dairy producers are willing to make when choosing between service options, determine factors that affect the tradeoff decisions that will be made, examine anxiety and depression levels and the impact that has on decision making, and identifying subgroups, if any, that may influence any tradeoff decisions that will be made. A questionnaire will be administered using the best-worst scaling approach to collect qualitative data in regards to the mental health of dairy farmers in order to achieve this goal. This data will be examined in order to acquire a greater understanding of this topic such as service preferences, possible mental health disorders, and various demographics. The findings from this study have the potential to assist policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as agricultural organizations in creating and implementing programs towards the preferences of mental health services among agricultural producers. The use of such programs, if implemented, could lead to a decline in mental health illnesses and incidents, such as suicide.
Messman, Brianna, "Mental Health Service Preferences Among Illinois Dairy Farmers: A Best-Worst Scaling Approach" (2020). Agriculture. 3.