Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Rural-Urban Differences in Work Patterns Among Adults with Depressive Symptoms


This study addresses the issue of poor mental health among young to middle-career rural residents and how their employment may be affected. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a nationally representative survey of adults, the authors investigate how depressive symptoms affect employment patterns, and the extent to which such effects differ by rural and urban residence. Analysis of the data identified the rural sample as more likely to be married, have less education, are less likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have health insurance than the urban sample. For both rural and urban subjects, individuals with depressive symptoms work less than those not depressed. Although the findings indicate no significant difference between depressed rural and urban residents in maintaining employment, questions remain about rural access to mental health services, such as employee assistance, productivity on the job, and the survival or coping strategies of rural workers with depressive symptoms.

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
Publish Date: 
March 1, 2008

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

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