Depression Prevention Programs to Help Rice Farmers in Thailand
In Thailand, about 70% of farmers are rice farmers. Many farmers have poor mental health and suffer from mild to moderate depression. This mainly stems from pesticide exposure known to affect the nervous system and social factors such as poor communication between family members. Therefore, it is essential to develop intervention programs for the prevention of depression in farmers.
In this study, we developed a two-part intervention program and checked the ability of the program to support farmers. Our program aimed at improving communication skills in families and the prevention of chemical intoxication by pesticides. 92 farmers with mild-to-moderate depression who participated in the study were randomly assigned one part of the program for 6 weeks and then made to switch to the other part for another 6 weeks. Depression levels were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) before and after the programs.
The program to improve communication skills trained farmers on active skills such as listening, questioning, admiration, and assertiveness. This was aimed at helping them develop better relationships with their family and the local community. The other program trained farmers on the use of pesticides, safe handling methods, and use of protective kits while spraying toxic chemicals. The farmers were also taught the health hazards of pesticides.
After the two programs were completed, we found an overall decrease in depression scores of the farmers. The programs were concluded to be effective in improving communication skills among farmers and helping to increasing awareness about the safe use of pesticides.
Therefore, this study proves the effectiveness of intervention programs in helping rice farmers with mild-to-moderate depression symptoms. It also underscores the importance of interventions to improve their living conditions. They are, after all, a key foundation of any country.
Link to the original journal article:
Effect of depression prevention programs among rice farmers in Thailand
Orawan Kaewboonchoo, Suda Hanklang, Plernpit Boonyamalik, Ikuharu Morioka
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