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Rural Health Information Hub

Mental Health Program Considerations for Rural Youth

Mental health conditions can develop in early childhood and impact long-term health and well-being. Recent research highlights that rural children and adolescents have a higher prevalence of behavior problems, anxiety, and depression. Factors such as lower household income and limited access to learning and recreational spaces can negatively impact the mental health of rural youth. Adolescents and children growing up on a struggling family farm may experience severe stress due to uncertainty and concerns regarding family finances and livelihood. Further, cost and mental health provider availability can deter parents or guardians from seeking mental health services for their children.

To best serve rural youth, mental health programs can develop strategies to improve access to mental health services. One way to accomplish this is through schools. Schools play an integral role in rural communities and school-based emotional support programs are effective in improving mental health outcomes for youth. For example, rural communities may consider collaborating with schools to integrate emotional support programs. These programs may cover coping skills and stress reduction activities tailored to the unique challenges faced by youth from families who live on farms. Other ways to improve access to mental health services among youth include telehealth and fostering opportunities for youth community engagement.

Resources to Learn More

A Community-Based Approach to Supporting the Mental Health of Rural Youth
Describes how community-based professionals can integrate within the community to offer programs and services to improve the mental health of rural youth.
Author(s): Michael, A., O'Neal, L., Kersey, E., et al.
Organization(s): University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension
Citation: EDIS, 2022 (6)
Date: 11/2022