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Rural Health Information Hub

Rural Project Examples: Mental health conditions

Evidence-Based Examples

Mental Health First Aid

Updated/reviewed July 2024

  • Need: Rural areas face challenges in access to mental health services, including shortages of mental health providers.
  • Intervention: This 8-hour course trains rural community members to recognize mental health and substance use issues and learn how to help someone who is developing a mental health concern or experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • Results: Numerous studies of this method have found that course participants are better able and more likely to help others regarding mental health issues.

Telepsychology-Service Delivery for Depressed Elderly Veterans

Updated/reviewed April 2024

  • Need: To provide evidence-based psychotherapy for depression in elderly veterans who are unable to seek mental health treatment due to distance or stigma.
  • Intervention: Telepsychology-Service Delivery for Depressed Elderly Veterans compared providing behavioral activation therapy via home-based telehealth and the same treatment delivered in a traditional office-based format.
  • Results: A 2015 study and two 2016 studies show that providing treatment via home-based telehealth to elderly veterans in South Carolina resulted in the same improved health outcomes, quality of life, satisfaction with care, and cost of healthcare compared to those receiving face-to-face treatment.

Project ECHO® – Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes

Updated/reviewed February 2024

  • Need: Increase medical management knowledge for New Mexico primary care providers in order to provide care for the thousands of rural and underserved patients with hepatitis C, a chronic, complex condition that has high personal and public health costs when left untreated.
  • Intervention: Project leveraging an audiovisual platform to accomplish "moving knowledge, not patients" that used a "knowledge network learning loop" of disease-specific consultants and rural healthcare teams learning from each other and learning by providing direct patient care.
  • Results: In 18 months, the urban specialist appointment wait list decreased from 8 months to 2 weeks due to Hepatitis C patients receiving care from the project's participating primary care providers. Improved disease outcomes were demonstrated along with cost savings, including those associated with travel. The project model, now known as Project ECHO® – Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes — has evolved into a telementoring model used world-wide.

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

Updated/reviewed September 2023

  • Need: To help people with chronic conditions learn how to manage their health.
  • Intervention: A small-group 6-week workshop for individuals with chronic conditions to learn skills and strategies to manage their health.
  • Results: Participants have better health and quality of life, including reduction in pain, fatigue, and depression.

Effective Examples

STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation)

Updated/reviewed March 2024

  • Need: To increase access to telemental health services for rural veterans, especially women, with a history of trauma.
  • Intervention: STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation) is a 10-week program designed to reduce PTSD and depression symptoms and increase emotional regulation and social functioning in clients.
  • Results: Therapists reported that clients attended more sessions when offered via teleconferencing, and clients reported satisfaction with the program.

Wyoming Trauma Telehealth Treatment Clinic

Updated/reviewed February 2024

  • Need: To provide psychotherapy to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Intervention: University of Wyoming psychology doctoral students provide psychotherapy via videoconferencing to crisis center clients in two rural locations.
  • Results: Clients, student therapists, and crisis center staff were satisfied with the quality of services, and clients reported reduced symptoms of depression and PTSD.

Promising Examples

Cross-Walk: Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Updated/reviewed May 2024

  • Need: To address and treat substance use disorder (SUD) and depression in the Upper Great Lakes region.
  • Intervention: Cross-Walk, a program that integrates behavioral healthcare into primary care services, was developed in Michigan's Marquette County.
  • Results: The collaborative efforts strengthened care management services in local healthcare facilities as primary care patients were referred to a behavioral health specialist.

Health without Borders

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy funded by the Health Resources Services Administration

Updated/reviewed January 2024

  • Need: To improve the health of communities in the south central region of New Mexico.
  • Intervention: A program was developed to specifically address diabetes prevention and control, behavioral healthcare, and immunization in Luna County.
  • Results: During the program, 1,500 immunizations were distributed, baseline measurements of participants improved, and 935 new patients were seen for behavioral health issues.

Other Project Examples

Positively Living & Choice Health Network

Updated/reviewed February 2024

  • Need: To provide affirming, destigmatized healthcare and support to thousands of Tennesseans living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, substance use disorder, and homelessness – and prevention services for individuals at risk of contracting HIV.
  • Intervention: Positively Living & Choice Health Network provides services including a medical clinic, pharmacy, therapy, case management, client services like housing aid and transportation, HIV prevention, and a harm reduction program.
  • Results: The program currently serves 5,000 individuals and families through its offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Cookeville and its mobile medical unit for rural communities in Cocke and Claiborne counties.

Riverfront Talks: Substance Matters Podcast

Added December 2023

  • Need: To reduce stigma around mental illness and substance use in North Carolina.
  • Intervention: The Beaufort County Behavioral Health Task Force created the Riverfront Talks: Substance Matters podcast to interview people with lived experience.
  • Results: As of December 2023, the podcast has 10 episodes.