Session 4E: Closing The Gap in Mental Health Services in Rural Areas: A Pilot Project Review
Based on 2010 U.S. Census data, over 80 percent of the land mass of the United States is considered rural or frontier, with only 20 percent of the US population residing within that vast area. Children residing in rural and frontier America share many of the same risk factors for abuse and neglect faced by children in more populated communities, but distance and isolation, higher poverty levels, fewer community services, and higher rates of substance abuse may place them at increased risk of maltreatment and associated traumatic stress.
CACs serve as a multidisciplinary hub for communities to determine the facts surrounding allegations of child abuse and at the same time help children recover and heal from the abusive events they have experienced. For many children, their recovery will require access to skilled, well-trained mental health clinicians. Therein lays another problem; while 20 percent of the population lives in or around what is considered rural communities, 65 percent of rural counties lack a single psychiatrist, 47 percent lack even one psychologist,5 and the 20 percent of licensed social workers who live outside of urban region are concentrated in areas just outside the urban centers, leaving very few licensed mental health providers to serve rural and frontier communities.
The WRCAC Rural Mental health project during their first strategic planning process identified Telemental health as a strategy to enhance access to trauma mental health service delivery in CACs in rural and frontier communities. Two chapters were selected to participate in a Statewide pilot project that would recruit mental health professionals to become part of a Statewide network of professional that could serve children and families in these areas.
This presentation will give an overview of a pilot project that is focused on providing access to quality mental health services to children and families in rural and frontier communities. A review of Telemental health, clinician/advocate training, administrative processes and lessons learned will be reviewed as part of the statewide network of Telemental health service delivery that is being developed with pilot sites.