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 2020
- 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 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 July 2018
- 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 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.
Updated/reviewed August 2020
- 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: In three years, 545 people received services through the school social worker, and 3,227 people participated in community events.
Last Updated: 1/22/2021