What professions have the highest rates of mental illness?

UPDATE 11:45am: In the interest of transparency, I’m keeping the information below, but please note that the information about farmer’s IS NOT CORRECT. Please see the CDC retraction.

Last week, as part of my real job, I took part on a hearing legislative hearing involving first responders, mental health and their ability to get the care they need. A nice summary of my legislation and other related pieces is here.

Some of my tweets from the hearing are below. When it comes to first responders, the ugly truth is that we are failing them:

As you can see from the tweets above (all of which were gathered from a public hearing), the stress first responders face is absurd. To work in an area where you have a 1/3 chance of showing symptoms of PTSD – and all while helping people and saving lives – that’s a remarkable thing to endure. These folks deserve our help and our praise, and that’s something I’m working on as a Representative.

That being said, it got me thinking: What other professions show high rates of mental illness and suicide?

That information is available. According to a US News article on the subject:

  1. Farmworkers, fishermen, forestry (85 suicides per 100,000).
  2. Construction and mining trades (53).
  3. Installation, maintenance, repair (48).
  4. Factory production workers (35).
  5. Architects and engineers (32).
  6. Police, firefighters and other protective services (31).
  7. Arts, design, entertainment, athletes, media (24).
  8. Computer and mathematics (23).
  9. Transportation and material movers (22).
  10. Corporate managers (20).

Now, those are suicide rates per 100,000. The farmworkers one is so far above the rest of the group that it truly gave me pause, but from a logical perspective, it makes sense. That category of workers obviously is concentrated in rural areas, which have higher rates of suicide. This is for many reasons, including a shortage of mental health care providers and a higher prevalence of guns.

So, why are farmworkers suicide rates so high? Unsurprisingly, there has been a great deal of media coverage about this subject. The job is high stress and success is subject to a variety of factors outside of the farmer’s control, such as the weather and state of international trade.

Looking at a different topic – rates of depression, I found this infographic from MentalHelp.Net.

Which Industries are the Most Affected?

The pattern there is less clear. And what’s even more interesting is that farming is not present anywhere in that information. I don’t understand the disconnect – and, frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to me. If you get it, please let me know in the comments below!



4 thoughts on “What professions have the highest rates of mental illness?

  1. The disconnect might be in the willingness to self-select among professions on one list, but not the other. Sucide numbers are what they are, here depression numbers depend on individuals coming forward for help/diagnosis.


    1. That’s a very good point. I’m just surprised at the utter lack of overlap. It really makes me question some of those numbers – despite a self-selection bias, you’d think there’d be some overlap, right?


  2. Consider this: Farming includes animal agriculture. So the ones that have to hear the screams and bellows of these trapped creatures as they rail against their tight impoundments, constantly aching for a life free from torturous enslavement. On top of that, we have the abbatoir, who literally has to drain the life from gentle, naturally docile creatures en masse day in and day out.


  3. Doctors have high rates of mental illness, above the rest of us. The State Medical Boards are aware of this issue and trying to address it but the doctors are fearful of coming forward and losing their licenses and credibility.

    Also, according to this source, location matters. Certapet.com, The Worst U.S. Cities for Mental Illness.


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