Maine Rural Health Research Center
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), an early intervention training program for general audiences, has been promoted as a means for improving population-level behavioral health (BH) in rural communities by encouraging treatment-seeking. This study, conducted by researchers at the Maine Rural Health Research Center, examined MHFA's appropriateness and impacts in rural contexts.
Findings: MHFA appears aligned with some key rural needs. MHFA may help to reduce unmet need for BH treatment in rural communities by raising awareness of BH issues and mitigating stigma, thereby promoting appropriate treatment-seeking. However, rural infrastructure deficits may limit some communities’ ability to meet new demand generated by MHFA. MHFA may help motivate rural communities to develop initiatives for strengthening infrastructure, but additional tools and consultation may be needed.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that MHFA holds promise for improving rural BH. MHFA alone cannot compensate for weaknesses in rural BH infrastructure.
Article first published online: January 28, 2016
Suggested Citation: Talbot, J. A., Ziller, E. C. and Szlosek, D. A. (2016), Mental Health First Aid in Rural Communities: Appropriateness and Outcomes. The Journal of Rural Health. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12173
Telemental health has been promoted to address long-standing access barriers to rural mental health care, including low supply and long travel distances. Examples of rural telemental health programs are common; there is a less clear picture of how widely implemented these programs are, their organization, staffing, and services. There is also a need to understand the business case for these programs and assess whether and how they might realize their promise. To address these gaps, a national study was conducted of rural telemental health programs including an online survey of 53 programs and follow-up interviews with 23 programs. This article describes the current landscape and characteristics of these programs and then examines their business case. Can rural telemental health programs be sustained within current delivery systems and reimbursement structures? This question is explored in four areas: need and demand, infrastructure and workforce, funding and reimbursement, and organizational fit and alignment. [Journal Abstract]
Suggested Citation: Lambert, D., Gale, J., Hartley, D., Croll, Z., & Hansen, A. (2015). Understanding the business case for telemental health in rural communities. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research. doi: 10.1007/s11414-015-9490-7 [epub ahead of print].
FMI: John Gale
This brief, authored by John Gale, M.S. and David Lambert, Ph.D. from the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service, Maine Rural Health Research Center, explores terminology, reimbursement and business issues, and provides examples from the field in the development of telebehavioral health services. In the first section, the authors place children’s telebehavioral health within the context and demands of today’s rural healthcare system, where the majority of children’s telebehavioral health services are delivered. They then describe three examples of the use of telebehavioral health to serve children, adolescents, and families in rural communities. The brief concludes by exploring the business case for telebehavioral health including the issues and challenges of service delivery, coordination, and financing. This brief is informed by a national study of telemental health (serving children, adults, and older persons) in rural health systems conducted by the authors and updated to reflect the latest information on three case examples.
For more information, please contact John Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested citation: Gale J, Lambert D. Exploring the Business Case for Children's Telebehavioral Health. Washington, DC: The Technical Assistance Network for Children's Behavioral Health, The Institute for Innovation & Implementation; March, 2015. Brief.