Cutler Institute

Mental Health Services in Rural Long-Term Care: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement


Despite high levels of need, individuals in long-term care often fail to receive appropriate mental health services, especially in rural areas. In this Research & Policy Brief (and accompanying Working Paper), we consider challenges and opportunities for improving mental health treatment delivered to long-term care recipients in rural settings. As background, we note the prevalence of mental health problems in long-term care populations, describe deficiencies in the mental health care afforded to long-term care recipients, and identify barriers that hinder the remediation of these deficiencies in rural settings. We also outline a rationale for enhancing mental health services in long-term care. We then discuss new approaches that have been implemented or could be used to effect positive transformations in the delivery of mental health services to rural long-term care populations. We underscore the potential for synergies between these innovations and provisions introduced under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. Finally, we delineate policy considerations for promoting new mental health service models in rural long-term care settings.

Suggested citation:

Talbot, J.A., & Coburn, A.F. (2013, June). Mental health services in rural long-term care: Challenges and opportunities for improvement. (Research & Policy Brief #50). Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, Maine Rural Health Research Center.

Publication Type: 
Research and Policy Brief
Publish Date: 
June 20, 2013