Guest Opinion: Rural mental health care must not be overlooked

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The challenges that try rural communities in nearly all aspects of health care – greater travel distances, fewer providers, heightened health concerns, lower incomes – also stand in the way of the delivery of behavioral and mental health care services. While there is not a greater prevalence of mental illness among rural residents, a significant disparity exists in access to mental health services and care for rural populations. In the United States, there are nearly 4,900 areas with mental health professional shortages. Of these, nearly 54 percent are classified as rural. A mental health professional shortage area is designated as such by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in cooperation with state partners. This designation provides...

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