Behavioral Health in Rural America: Challenges and Opportunities

The prevalence of mental health and substance use diagnoses and unmet treatment needs are not equally distributed, with rural residence being one factor associated with these differences. Moreover, the rural context has proven challenging for ensuring the availability of and access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery services in rural areas. This paper reviews the prevalence of behavioral health disorders in rural populations, rural access to behavioral health services, promising program and policy strategies targeted to improving rural BH systems, and opportunities for policy and system changes to improve rural BH systems and outcomes.

Principal authors: John Gale, MS; Jaclyn Janis, BSN, RN, MPH; Andrew Coburn, PhD; Hannah Rochford, MPH. Prepared by the RUPRI Health Panel: Keith Mueller, PhD; Andrew Coburn, PhD; Alana Knudson, PhD; Jennifer Lundblad, PhD, MBA; Timothy McBride, PhD.