Mental Health Care Issues in a Predominantly Rural and Frontier State: Results and Implications from a Comprehensive Survey

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Some research suggests that life in rural and frontier areas, although often portrayed as idyllic, may in some respects be problematic. One area of concern regards mental health, as it has been repeatedly reported that access to mental health care is poor in rural and frontier areas, that barriers to mental health treatment exist, and that some mental health problems may be particularly prevalent in these areas. In the present study, surveys asking questions about mental health care access, barriers to mental health care, and prevalent mental health care problems were sent to all licensed and registered mental health providers in each rural and frontier county of an Intermountain West state. The results suggested that mental health care access is indeed poor, with the primary reported barriers being cost, lack of trained staff, travel distance and time, and the stigma associated with mental health problems. Prevalent problems included depression, substance abuse, and marital/relationship problems. The results are discussed in terms of policy implications and strategies for preventative interventions.

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