For Rural Youth, Mental Health Care Tough to Find

By Cara Murez
HealthDay reporter

WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) – As the mental health of young Americans appears to be worsening, the places where help is needed most appear to have the fewest resources.

A new study published in JAMA network open found that rural areas of the United States have fewer mental health services for young people. Previous studies have reported that they also have higher youth suicide rates than urban areas.

“Youth mental health appears to be getting worse, not better, because of COVID-19,” said senior author Janessa Graves, associate dean for undergraduate and community research at Washington State University College of Nursing. “We really need these resources to serve these children.”

Using postal codes, the researchers found that 3.9% of rural areas have a mental health facility serving youth. This compares to 12.1% of metropolitan areas and 15% of small town zip codes.

While 63.7% of counties nationwide had youth mental health services, only 29.8% of “very rural” counties had them, according to the study.

“Even less intensive services like mental health therapists in schools are lacking in rural areas,” Graves said in a college press release.

“Given the higher rates of suicide deaths among rural youth,” the study concludes, “it is imperative that the distribution and access to mental health services match the needs of the community.”


More information

Youth.gov, a US government website, says more about youth mental health.

SOURCE: Washington State University College of Nursing, press release, November 2, 2020

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