Boosting mental health support for Indian farmers

New IIED data analysis proving the link between climate impacts and suicide rates among small-scale farmers has inspired a commitment from India’s Ministry of Agriculture to offer mental health support via a phoneline available to agricultural communities.

May 2023
1 minute read
Man walking through a paddy field, carrying a bucket.

Farmer in a paddy field in Tamil Nadu, India (Photo: Thangaraj Kumaravel, via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

After IIED published 'Urgent preventative action for climate-related suicides in rural India' in May 2023, a Ministry of Agriculture representative contacted IIED principal researcher Ritu Bharadwaj to discuss the paper. 

He set out plans to provide mental health support via an existing agro-advisory phoneline, but also wanted to explore our recommendations. These include supporting rural livelihoods through collective insurance policies by extending existing social protection schemes.

The correlation IIED discovered between low rainfall and rising instances of farmer suicide stemmed from our commitment to putting affected people’s experience at the heart of policy – and proved a critical link. The findings gained significant media attention in India and beyond, and are relevant for any country where farmers are feeling the pressure of extreme weather.

This influential work is part of IIED’s broader long-term focus on loss and damage: we are collaborating with a range of partners in the least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, working together to develop a vision for practical action to address climate-driven loss and damage.