Rural Mental Health – Models and Innovations
These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.
Updated/reviewed July 2021
- 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.
Updated/reviewed September 2021
- Need: To improve the health status and access for rural nursing home patients in need of mental health services.
- Intervention: The University of Vermont Medical Center provides telepsychiatry care and education to nursing homes in communities that face shortages of mental health professionals.
- Results: These telepsychiatry consultations have eased the burden on nursing home residents by saving travel time, distance, and money it takes to travel to the nearest tertiary facility.
Updated/reviewed January 2021
- 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.
Updated/reviewed December 2020
- Need: To provide high-quality mental healthcare to rural veterans.
- Intervention: The Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) program, stationed at the Portland VA Medical Center, reaches rural veterans in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington via telehealth.
- Results: From 2010 to 2013, 1,754 veterans received diagnoses, therapy, medication management, and other mental health services.
Updated/reviewed September 2020
- Need: To improve awareness of behavioral and mental health issues by students in rural, east central Mississippi.
- Intervention: An intensive community mental health outreach program was implemented for students in rural Mississippi.
- Results: As of 2018 and on a yearly basis, 6,000 7th and 8th grade students receive mental health education on a variety of topics which improves their ability to recognize mental health issues, high risk behaviors, and their self-concept.
Updated/reviewed August 2020
- Need: To improve the physical health of individuals seeking mental healthcare.
- Intervention: Race to Health! in Washington integrated mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and primary care for individuals with severe mental illness.
- Results: Race to Health! helped reduce emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and costs (a total savings of $5,144,000 for Medicare patients).
Updated/reviewed April 2019
- Need: There is a lack of interventions that addresses teenager behavioral problems, particularly for rural African American adolescents.
- Intervention: Rural, locally trained leaders administered five 2-hour meetings for teenagers and their primary caregivers. Trainings focused on reducing risks that prevent positive development, specifically sexual risk-taking that can lead to HIV and other STIs.
- Results: Teens reported reduced conduct problems, depressive symptoms, and substance abuse. Families were strengthened, and SAAF-T reduced unprotected intercourse and increased condom efficacy.
Updated/reviewed December 2018
- Need: More mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services in rural Texas.
- Intervention: A network was formed to bring counseling services through telehealth systems and community health workers to Brazos Valley, Texas.
- Results: The program improved health outcomes, increased general knowledge of the impact of substance abuse, and raised awareness of services among Hispanic residents.
Updated/reviewed September 2021
- Need: To provide mental health services to rural Kansas students and their families.
- Intervention: The Schools That Care project provides mental health treatment and case management as well as community education events.
- Results: From 2018 to 2021, 3,456 individuals participated in health education and counseling activities offered to the public, and 964 individuals and 303 families received direct services through the Family Advocate.
Updated/reviewed October 2020
- Need: To provide unified and seamless access to primary care to adult patients in Pennsylvania's rural Clearfield and Jefferson counties who have been diagnosed with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness.
- Intervention: A "one-stop shop" of healthcare services addressed the physical and behavioral health and medication needs of adults in the region.
- Results: Results indicated better behavioral and physical health outcomes for participants as well as increased adherence to medications.
Last Updated: 9/9/2021