Rural Mental Health First Aid
Nearly twenty percent of people in the United States live in a rural area. The challenges faced by residents in rural areas are significantly different than those in urban areas. Rural populations are often underserved and possess health and behavioral health disparities. Rural communities have a chronic shortage of behavioral health providers and limited access to services.
Mental Health First Aid has the potential to address these disparities in rural communities by increasing mental health literacy (i.e., knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management, or prevention) among key community members – creating a stronger, more prepared network of support for individuals living in rural areas.
Rural Mental Health First Aid is a way to build community level capacity to identify mental health and substance abuse issues early and for rural residents to increase their confidence to intervene and refer people to the resources that do exist. Rural communities have a long history of being innovative and taking responsibility. Mental Health First Aid is a way to increase the level of baseline knowledge about mental health and substance abuse issues and to decrease the negative perceptions often associated with these issues.
Our targeted effort to serve rural communities addresses their unique characteristics, recognizes the community of rural Mental Health First Aid instructors, and enhances community capacity around behavioral health issues in rural areas.