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Rural Health Information Hub

Trainings for Mental Health Providers and Community Members

Healthcare staff and communities should be equipped with necessary skills to provide effective and efficient services to patients. In the field of mental health, specific skills are essential for staff to provide proper patient care. The three trainings highlighted in this section are not inclusive of all mental health trainings providers should have, but they do touch on important aspects necessary when providing mental healthcare in rural communities.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is an approach for staff in mental health and primary care settings where victims of trauma may be treated or reside. This training:

“…provides a new perspective where those providing the support shift from asking ‘What is wrong with you?’ to ‘What has happened to you?’.”

More than half of all rural residents have experienced some kind of trauma or adverse childhood experience (ACE) as children, making it important for all rural mental health providers to be well-versed in trauma-informed care.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that a trauma-informed approach uses six key principles:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration and mutuality
  5. Empowerment, voice, and choice
  6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues

Cultural Competence

In a review of cultural competence models, authors of an article in BMC Health Services Research explain that having cultural competence — being aware of a person's background, language, practices, and beliefs — can help a provider better understand their patient's current situation and can help them correctly diagnose and treat the patient.

Cultural competence is especially important in rural mental health services because patients already experience numerous barriers to receiving care, including stigma, distance to care, and mental health provider shortages. Becoming a culturally competent healthcare organization may also lead to a variety of benefits, including social, health, and economic benefits. An example of social benefits includes more community-based participation in healthcare. Health benefits include a decrease in health disparities among populations, and economic benefits include developing healthcare that is efficient and provides good-value care.

Mental Health First Aid

By equipping more rural residents with mental health knowledge, individuals with a mental health condition can receive proper care despite the mental health professional shortages. Mental Health First Aid is a tool that can improve resident understanding of mental health, also known as mental health literacy.

Mental Health First Aid provides in-person training for individuals who desire to gain knowledge of mental health risks and warning signs. The training, offered by the National Council for Behavioral Health, teaches a 5-step action plan on how to connect someone going through a mental health crisis to professional, peer, and social support, as well as steps to self-help. This training can help prepare community members to address mental health conditions.

Mental Health First Aid is especially relevant for rural areas because many of these regions are facing mental health practitioner shortages. By equipping community members and providers with the resources to recognize mental health behavior changes in others, they can respond appropriately to an individual developing a mental health condition or in crisis.

Resources to Learn More

Becoming a Culturally Competent Health Care Organization
A guide for healthcare organizations seeking to improve culturally competent practices.
Organization(s): Institute for Diversity in Health Management, Health Research & Educational Trust
Date: 6/2013

Mental Health First Aid
Delivers information about Mental Health First Aid including where to take a course, tools for rural communities, and a database of instructors.
Organization(s): National Council for Behavioral Health, Missouri Department of Mental Health