Rural Mental Health First Aid
Why Mental Health First Aid in Rural Communities?
Nearly twenty percent of people in the United States live in a rural area. The challenges faced by residents in rural areas are significantly different than those in urban areas. Rural populations are often under served and possess health and behavioral health disparities. Rural communities have a chronic shortage of behavioral health providers and limited access to services.
Mental Health First Aid has the potential to address these disparities in rural communities by increasing mental health literacy (i.e., knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management or prevention) among key community members – creating a stronger, more prepared network of support for individuals living in rural areas.
Rural Mental Health First Aid is a way to build community level capacity to identify mental health and substance abuse issues early and for rural residents to increase their confidence to intervene and refer people to the resources that do exist. Rural communities have a long history of being innovative and taking responsibility. Mental Health First Aid is a way to increase the level of baseline knowledge about mental health and substance abuse issues and to decrease the negative perceptions often associated with these issues.
Our targeted effort to serve rural communities addresses their unique characteristics, recognizes the community of rural Mental Health First Aid instructors, and to enhance community capacity around behavioral health issues in rural areas.
How Can I Get my Community Involved?
Communities interested in learning about bringing the 8-hour training course to their area should review our rural Quick Start Guide on how to get started.
Find out if there is already an instructor near you who can deliver the course to your community. Be sure to check for the blue “rural” icon on their profile.