Center for Rural Mental Health Studies

Health care is different in rural areas and urban areas. The same is true for mental health care.

The Center for Rural Mental Health Studies seeks to better understand the factors that contribute to mental health and disorders in rural areas and the barriers to effective treatment. With that knowledge, we can generate better approaches to prevention, assessment, and treatment that fit in rural settings financially, culturally, and geographically.

Rather than simply creating an "urban" care system in rural Minnesota, our goal is to create a system of mental health care that fits the rural setting.

Why this mission is important to rural families and clinics

More than 50% of visits made to family physicians are for health problems with significant social/behavioral components such as anxiety, depression, addictions, obesity, and pain. Incorporating mental and behavioral health approaches in the treatment of primary health problems results in better treatment success and, ultimately, reduces use of health care services.

The rural setting presents unique challenges to providing quality mental health care.

  • Mental health providers are in short supply
  • Existing mental health clinics are located a considerable distance from residents
  • Seeking care from a mental health provider may carry a greater stigma
  • Financial barriers exist due to inadequacies in health insurance coverage and large numbers of rural residents with incomes below the poverty level
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  • Last modified on November 3, 2014