077: Addressing Rural Mental Health

NRHDToday is National Rural Health Day.  Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Nisha Patel, the director of the community based division in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).  In her role, Nisha provides oversight, leadership and management to programmatic, operational and fiscal activities as related to improving and increasing healthcare access in rural communities.

Natasha and Nisha discuss some of the unique challenges US citizens face in rural communities from a mental health perspective.  Some of these include higher numbers of poor mental health, obesity, shortage of mental health providers, stigmas associated with treatment, long distances to attain services, prescription drug dependence, etc. Nisha shares several statistics that are relevant to communities who have large numbers of LDS members. They also discuss innovative solutions that can include applying for available grants, developing community programs, use of tele-mental health resources, and taking advantage of specified trainings. This podcast includes a lot of relevant information as to how LDS members may be affected by rural community issues and how ecclesiastical & auxiliary leaders and mental health providers can tap into resources that are available to address the needs of Mormons.  One way that wards and stakes can take a more proactive approach to meeting the more chronic or mental health needs they encounter is partnering with local resources to help members become insured and access care through the Affordable Care Act – with a focus on preventative care.  The enrollment period started this month and goes until January 31, 2016.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Rural Assistance Center (includes mental health evidence base toolkit and other resources)

State Offices of Rural Health:  There is one SORH per state. They are the focal point for rural areas and are a wealth for resources and can provide guidance on funding opportunities.

ACA Help: Find Local Help

Mormon Mental Health Association

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast.  Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.

Donations to Mormon Mental Health are tax deductible and go directly to support the costs of producing the podcast.  If and when donations exceed these costs, they will go to support trainings, research, materials development, and financial support for those who need help affording appropriate therapy services.



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