Addressing the Challenges of Behavioral Health Care in Rural Wyoming

A new report highlights some of the challenges to accessing behavioral health care for one in seven Americans living in rural areas.

Kendall Strong, senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said integrating behavioral health into primary care can help improve health outcomes and get patients mental health and substance use treatment covered. they need. She has noticed just how physical health problems, if the behavioral problems that arise are not addressed, can escalate into something much more serious.

\”If you have problems with substance use, or depression, anxiety and you let it get worse, we know it gets worse,\” Strong pointed out. \”When that happens, you often need more acute care later. More acute care, as we know, is often more expensive.\”

One of the report\’s recommendations is to enhance training and other resources for Wyoming\’s 25 federally qualified health centers that have pioneered a team-based approach to care. When patients have their annual medical checkup, they may also meet mental health, dental, and even vision care professionals during the same visit.

The lack of mental health professionals is one of the biggest barriers to accessing care in rural America. The report recommended strengthening workforce development programs, including the Health Center\’s Graduate Medical Education Program for Teaching.

Heavily emphasized providers are more likely to work where they get their training, and most medical schools and residences are located in cities and suburbs.

\”If you don\’t practice in a rural area, if you\’re not from a rural area, if you don\’t already live in a rural area, you\’re less likely to train and stay there,\” Strong explained. “We think enabling the expansion, continuation and development of the program will allow more providers to train in rural areas.”

The strong added stigma continues to be a barrier to accessing mental health care. Many patients in small towns feel uncomfortable if their car is parked outside a psychologist\’s office. Strong emphasized that continuing pandemic-era flexibility for telehealth services, especially in rural areas, is important.

“Many of these flexibilities will expire at the end of 2024,” Strong noted. \”But in rural areas, we\’ve seen that using audio-only is really important for people who can\’t afford or don\’t have access to broadband.\”

Disclosure: The Bipartisan Policy Center contributes to our alcohol and drug abuse prevention reporting fund, health issues, hunger/food/nutrition, and mental health. If you want to help support news of public interest, click here.

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The scale of climate change may seem overwhelming, creating a sense of so-called \’climate pain\’ for some, but young climate activists say they are turning the sense of loss into motivation.

Studies show that eight out of 10 young people are concerned about the climate and half report feelings of anxiety, anger and helplessness about it.

Megan Birnbaum, Youth Engagement and Policy Fellow at The Climate Initiative, said it was important for young people to acknowledge their sadness about the environment and connect with other like-minded people who want to fix it.

\”Grief can play out and then, within that space, I think we can find more brainspace or creativity, and more importantly community, in which to take climate action,\” Birnbaum explained.

Researchers have found that climate pain is partly caused by a sense that governments aren\’t doing enough to avert a climate catastrophe. Birnbaum pointed out that Maine youth have used grief to help pass bills to improve environmental education and green spaces in underprivileged areas.

Leading climate activist Greta Thunberg said she too has been experiencing a sense of \”climate anxiety\” and to get rid of it it\’s important to \”take action against it\”.

Birnbaum noted that a recent gathering of young climate activists in Washington, DC revealed a palpable sense of loss but a stronger sense of hope.

\”We were all really excited to be together,\” Birnbaum said. \”And I\’ve felt so much sympathy that all the issues we\’re facing in our respective communities are connected by climate change.\”

Birnbaum said activists in Maine are connecting with others in California, Florida and elsewhere, sharing motivation and advice. He added that young people deserve a world where they don\’t have to fight for their future.

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Nevada mental health professionals want to remind everyone that it\’s okay to be unwell.

According to Mental Health America, in 2022 Nevada ranked last in the country for its overall prevalence of mental illness and for having the lowest rates of access to care.

Tennille Pereira, director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, said in the wake of recent mass shootings across the country, traumatic events can unleash to varying degrees for people, especially survivors.

She noted that while May is Mental Health Awareness Month, mental health is something we need to take \”more seriously throughout the year.\”

“We are seeing an unprecedented amount of mob violence and there is a lot of discussion about mental health and these incidents,” Pereira stressed. \”Wherever you are on the spectrum of thinking, regarding this, these events impact us.\”

Pereira argued that after the Route 91 shooting massacre in Las Vegas in October 2017, killing 58 people and injuring more than 850, the state of Nevada did not have enough \”properly trained and vetted providers to handle the need.\” He added while improvements have been made since then, things still need to improve.

Pereira noted that survivors of mob violence often lose their sense of security, when \”the world can no longer feel or appear safe to them.\” She emphasized that therapy and mental health support are effective ways to deal with trauma.

Pereira acknowledged that when violent events keep happening, they can really hamper a survivor\’s ability to recover.

\’What it does is reinforce that distortion of thinking that the world is not safe,\’ Pereira explained. \”It\’s really hard for survivors to navigate a world where it keeps happening.\”

Pereira pointed out that one of the biggest barriers to getting help is the stigma often associated with using mental health resources. She said the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is working to \”normalize\” getting assistance and encourages everyone to check in with themselves, and added that the center has expanded to provide services to all victims of violent crime.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and across the Commonwealth buildings are lit up green, the color of mental health awareness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 43 percent of Kentucky adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression in 2021, and 40,000 youth ages 12 to 17 suffer from depression.

Marcie Timmerman, executive director of Mental Health America of Kentucky, explained that the free, private online screening tests available at can help people monitor their mental health status.

\”Are screens a great way to know where your mental health is? Are you in a place where you might need some extra help?\” Timmerman explained. \”It also connects you with resources to help you get that extra help yourself.\”

Timmerman encouraged all Kentuckians to wear green today to show support for mental health and share photos on social media with the hashtag #mhaky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 Kentuckians lost their lives by suicide in 2022.

Mary Malone, chair of the Mental Health America-Kentucky board and retired nursing professor at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, said more and more research shows it\’s critical to take care of mental health and stress with urgency and time. attention given to physical health.

\”We have no problem going to the doctor when there\’s a problem with our heart or diabetes, but we\’re really hesitant when it comes to mental health issues,\” Malone noted.

Timmerman added that communities are feeling the impacts of unaddressed mental health issues.

\”Because not only that person trying to overcome their illness is also influenced by other people who love them, who work with them or who want to support them,\” Timmerman stressed.

According to the Kentucky Hospital Association, at the height of the pandemic in 2020, the percentage of emergency room visits for mental health issues increased by 53%, while overall visits decreased.

Disclosure: Mental Health America of Kentucky contributes to our Health, Mental Health, Social Justice Reporting Fund. If you want to help support news of public interest, click here.

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