There’s no doubt that, all along the food chain, folks work very hard to get ingredients from the farm to our stomachs.

Harvesting, processing, transporting, cooking, and serving food can be hard on people’s bodies—and their mental health and well-being.

Among farm workers, rates of depression alone could be as high as 45 percent, as calculated in a Nebraska study in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Falling prices, lower yields due to climate disasters, debt, political instability in trade disputes and food relief, and more all put pressure on farmers. Nearly half of agricultural laborers (42 percent, per a California study) face low or very low food security, and many also are not given sufficient rest breaks or protection from the heat or cold.

Fishers and those working in aquaculture also face long hours working in isolation, exposed to harsh environmental conditions. Meat processors report symptoms of Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress, a form of PTSD that stems from having caused trauma to animals.

“I didn’t suffer physical injuries, but the place affected my mind,” an anonymous slaughterhouse worker told the BBC. “As I spent day after day in that large, windowless box, my chest felt increasingly heavy and a grey fog descended over me…After a while, I started feeling suicidal.”

And the restaurant and food service industries are among the most unhealthy workplaces for psychological well-being, according to Mental Health America. A majority or near-majority of restaurant workers are facing emotional abuse or disrespect from both customers and managers and feeling “pushed to their breaking point.”

For some folks, the mental health challenges of working in the food system are life-or-death. Farmers, ranchers, and farm managers are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to die by suicide compared to the general population, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other analyses put that number at 3.5 times more likely.

These examples are heartbreaking. The people who power our food system deserve to have livelihoods that build them up, not tear them down.

We want to shine a light on some of the amazing advocates who are working to change this reality and save lives.

Cultivemos, a program of the National Young Farmers Coalition, is creating a provider network in the Northeast U.S. to build behavioral health access and improve outcomes among agricultural workers.

Rural Resilience is creating online educational workshops to improve farmer mental healthcare. The Minnesota Rural Mental Health outreach program is doing great work meeting farmers where they’re at for counseling. Project Black and Blue is stepping up for food service workers in crisis, helping make medical and wellness treatment economically possible.

Read the full article about food system workers by Danielle Nierenberg at Food Tank.