The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Rural health risk factor: Not enough help for mental health

This article is certainly an eye opener for those of us in mental health.  Although this article is aimed at the Wisconsin population, I think the argument can be made for just about any rural area in the United States.  Even in some of the urban areas, finding a psychiatrist can be tricky.

It is not unusual to have long waiting periods to get in to see a psychiatrist as a new patient, so some people take the extreme action of going into the psychiatric hospital to be able to get some help.  I don’t think anyone anywhere can tell me that doing that is really cost-effective and good use of valuable resources.

Read the article below and let me know what your thoughts are on the subject.  Do you have an suggestions to solve this dilemma?

David Wahlberg | | 608-252-6125 | Posted: Saturday, March 6, 2010 12:00 pm

Suicide rates for teens and older adults are higher in rural areas than in urban areas, according to the Institute of Medicine. More than 85 percent of the areas with shortages of mental health professionals are rural, according to the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb.

There is no psychiatrist based in Price County, where the suicide rate is above the state average.

A psychiatrist comes from Minocqua once or twice a week, but new patients have to wait three or four months to see him, said Tracie Burkart, a county social worker. The nearest child psychiatrist — in Rhinelander, about 80 miles away — has a waiting list of two years.

The hospital in Minocqua has been trying to hire a second psychiatrist, but a two-year search netted one interview. That person took a different job.

“Even in larger, urban cities that are nice to live in, these jobs are hard to fill,” said Dr. Laura Nelson, a medical director of Marshfield Clinic, which runs the hospitals in Park Falls and Minocqua. “So it’s really difficult to fill them up here.”

Jerry Smart started Park Falls’ first support group for people with mental illness four years ago.

The 59-year-old, who has depression, said medications and the support group help him cope. But it can be difficult, he said, because many people in the area are uncomfortable talking about mental health.

“Especially in the winter, when the weather is gloomy, it really gets to me,” he said.

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About the rural health project

Wisconsin State Journal reporter David Wahlberg is undertaking a special project this year examining rural health care challenges. Installments on related issues will follow in the coming months. Joining Wahlberg on the project is State Journal photographer Craig Schreiner.

To contact them, e-mail or or call Wahlberg at 608-252-6125.

The project is partly supported by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which awarded a fellowship to Wahlberg.

Here’s the link to the original article

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March 13, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Read the original here: Rural health risk factor: Not enough help for mental health « The … […]

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