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Rural Health Information Hub

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.

Evidence-Based Examples

Mental Health First Aid

Updated/reviewed July 2023

  • 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.

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.

I Got You: Healthy Life Choices for Teens (IGU)

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Updated/reviewed February 2024

  • 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 manage their own choices.

University of Vermont Medical Center's Nursing Home Telepsychiatry Service

Updated/reviewed December 2023

  • 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.

Strong African American Families-Teen Program

Updated/reviewed May 2023

  • 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.

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.

Schools That Care

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Updated/reviewed August 2022

  • 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.

Other Project Examples

Florissa

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

Updated/reviewed June 2024

  • Need: To address the developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of rural children ages 0-22 in northwest Illinois.
  • Intervention: Local partners teamed up to create a centralized service facility for children and families facing developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional issues. Florissa provides evaluations, diagnosis, and treatment to local children using a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach.
  • Results: In 2023, Florissa provided a direct clinical service to over 337 children, in addition to many trainings and supportive programs. It also is co-located with the KSB Hospital pediatric department, a certified pediatric patient-centered medical home (PCMH).

The Sapling Center

Updated/reviewed June 2024

  • Need: To create a safe space for youth and young adults, ages 14 to 25, in rural eastern Kentucky.
  • Intervention: The Sapling Center provides independent living skills education and offers a wide array of services as well as fun activities in a supportive environment.
  • Results: The 5 Sapling Center locations serve 50-75 teens and young adults every day.

Regional Behavioral Health Network

Updated/reviewed April 2024

  • Need: Multiple organizations in rural east central Illinois needed a more efficient, centralized system for referring patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis to appropriate treatment services.
  • Intervention: The Regional Behavioral Health Network was established with a 24-hour toll-free crisis line, providing immediate access to trained crisis clinicians.
  • Results: Improved access to high quality behavioral healthcare for patients in rural east central Illinois.

Last Updated: 6/11/2024