May 23, 2022

Health Corner: Senior Life Solutions available to address mental health in rural Iowa

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and ACHS’s Senior Life Solutions is spreading awareness of the challenges of receiving mental health access in rural areas.

While mental illnesses have a similar prevalence in both rural and urban environments, the circumstances and access to treatment look different. The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) reports rural residents face more obstacles in obtaining behavioral health services. As a result, distinct mental health differences are found in rural versus urban residents.

Studies have also shown that the risk of suicide is higher in rural areas, making it that much more vital that individuals seek out and have access to help. According to the The Rural Health Information Hub, “suicide rate is near twice as great in the most rural areas of the U.S. compared to the most urban areas.”

Figuring out a solution starts with identifying the problem. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the following barriers to receiving mental health care in rural areas:

Lack of Privacy Lack of culturally appropriate treatment Lack of Services Lack of Practitioners Evidence-Based Practices

Recently, solutions such as telehealth have helped increase access to mental health care for rural Americans, making treatment more obtainable. Along with technological advances, one thing we can all do to help improve access to mental health is simply talk about it. Talking about mental health can help individuals feel less afraid to seek help.

The American Psychiatric Association says, “Research shows that knowing or having contact with someone with mental illness is one of the best ways to reduce stigma. Individuals speaking out and sharing their stories can have a positive impact. When we know someone with mental illness, it becomes less scary and more real and relatable.”

To learn more about how you can become an advocate this Mental Health Awareness Month and join the national campaign, visit www.nami.org.

Senior Life Solutions is ACHS’s program designed to meet the unique needs of individuals typically 65 and older experiencing depression and/or anxiety related to life changes that are often associated with aging.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a recent heart-related diagnosis or a decline in emotional health, our program wants you to know we are here to help. Whether through our program or another service, our team works to identify and address the emotional needs of those in our community and provide support.

If you need more information, education, or would like to discuss support, please call SLS at 641-743-7202.