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For Rural Youth, Mental Health Care Can Be Tough to Find

HealthDay News
by Cara Murez
Updated: Nov 4th 2020

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- While young Americans' mental health appears to be getting worse, 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 rates of youth suicide than urban areas do.

"Youth mental health is something that seems to be getting worse, not better, because of COVID-19," said lead author Janessa Graves, assistant dean for undergraduate and community research at Washington State University College of Nursing. "We really need these resources to serve these kids."

Using ZIP codes, researchers found 3.9% of rural areas have a mental health facility serving young people. That compares to 12.1% of metro areas and 15% of small-town ZIP codes.

While 63.7% of counties nationwide had a mental health services for young people, just 29.8% of "highly rural" counties did, the study found.

"Even less intensive services like school mental health therapists are lacking in rural areas," Graves said in a university news release.

"Given the higher rates of suicide deaths among rural youth," the study concluded, "It is imperative that the distribution of and access to mental health services correspond to community needs."

More information

Youth.gov, a U.S. government website, has more about young peoples' mental health.

SOURCE: Washington State University College of Nursing, news release, Nov. 2, 2020