Improving the Mental Health of Rural People

Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
Publication Date: May 06, 2021

Improving the Mental Health of Rural People

The American Psychological Association (APA) has provided recommendations to achieve health equity for rural and frontier populations in response to a Request for Information (RFI) from the National Institute of Mental Health. The recommendations come from various divisions, boards, and committees across the organization whose psychologist members have expertise in rural mental health, integrated care, aging, and health equity for underserved populations.


"Access to psychologists in rural and frontier communities is of particular concern to APA, which has documented these workforce shortages. Of the 734 U.S. counties that were entirely rural, the vast majority (93.6%) had no records of licensed psychologists (APA, 2016), about 2.4% had one to four licensed psychologists, and 4.0% had five or more licensed psychologists. Research is needed on specific effective and innovative recruitment strategies for rural mental health providers, including a focus on cultural competence in rural populations."


APA's recommendations address:

  1. Recognizing the Diversity of, and within, Rural and Frontier Populations
  2. Expanded Use of Tele-Mental Health and Its Impact on Rural Communities
  3. Examining Essential Components of Integrated Care Models
  4. High Risk Populations, Social Determinants of Health, and Comorbid Conditions
  5. Coordination with Community Organizations to Reduce Stigma
  6. Adopting Consistent Methodology to Define Rurality and Leveraging Datasets
  7. Research to Inform Rural Suicide Prevention Strategies


Read APA's full RFI response.

Read more Research, Reports, and Data on Farm Stress and Mental Health.