Author's School

Brown School

Author's Department

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 7-6-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Jean-Francois Trani


Because of their closeness to and dependence on the land, climate change will disproportionately impact farmer mental health. Despite local and global reliance on U.S. Midwest farmers' mental health and wellbeing, there are limited studies elucidating the impacts of our changing climate on their mental health. The proposed dissertation addresses this gap by leveraging qualitative data from community stakeholders and applying a systems perspective in two phases to address the research question: How does climate change impact farmer mental health? The study takes place in farming communities in rural southeastern Iowa, which have experienced demonstrated increases in daily average temperature, changes in precipitation, and more frequent acute storm, drought, and flooding events linked to climate change. For the first phase of the study, semi-structured interviews with farmers and local mental health providers explored varied impacts of recent climate change-related weather events on farmers’ livelihoods. Findings from these interviews informed the second phase of the study, which consisted of group and individual model building sessions conducted with farmers and mental health providers to map pathways and mechanisms between climate change and mental health. Model building sessions also generated action ideas for potential interventions to mitigate impacts and treat adverse mental health outcomes. The final product of this research project is a preliminary formal qualitative scoping model that articulates processes and feedback loops contained within the intersection of climate change-related weather events and farmer mental health. The research project answers calls from prominent researchers for systems-based and participatory approaches to further build relevant and accurate theories that reflect the complicated, nuanced, and changeable nature of mental health contained within the context of an ever-changing climate.

Available for download on Tuesday, December 31, 2024