This is an issue that has been around for a long time, but perhaps “all of this” over the last few years is now bringing it to the forefront.
““For the past two decades, health-care access has been, far and away, the most important topic no matter how we cut the data,” said Timothy Callaghan, one of the survey authors. “The fact that mental health and addiction came out ahead of health-care access this time… certainly surprised us, but when you start thinking about the context of the past decade and the context of the pandemic in which you launched the survey, the findings are a bit less surprising.””
The challenges aren’t any different than the ones for physical health care. The lack of available resources, inability to afford the resources that are available, and the stigma of being treated for mental health and addiction. (In a small town, everyone knows who’s doing what.)
There have been some efforts to make health care more accessible in rural areas, but I’m not sure that we’ve done nearly as much when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. I’ve read too many stories of people needing to travel 100 miles or more to see a therapist, or get a prescription for medication, let alone finding a rehab clinic with an opening. Throw in a system that too often forgets that they exist, or uses them as pawns in power grabs instead of trying to meet the needs of these communities, and it’s no wonder that many would be feeling helpless in the face of addiction and mental health issues.
We need to find a better way that includes making proper support available to all.
If you live in a rural area, what has your experience been?