As National Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, the Center for Rural Affairs has released a report entitled, Mental Health: Overlooked and Disregarded in Rural America. The report examines what one author, Kim Preston, calls the alarming deficiencies of the mental health care system in rural America.
According to Preston, rural Americans remain undeserved in terms of mental health care providers and health insurance coverage for mental health services despite the fact rural Americans suffer just as much from mental illness. Preston says this report calls for health care reform that includes an affordable, meaningful public health insurance option. And any such reform should also ensure that all Americans, rural and urban, have reasonable access to quality mental health care.
Crucial areas in the study focus on depression, stress, barriers of availability, lack of accessibility, social stigma and lack of affordable, meaningful health insurance coverage. Preston points out that major depression rates in some rural areas significantly exceed those in urban areas. Teens and older adults in rural areas have significantly higher suicide rates than their urban counterparts.