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More hope for the rural mentally ill

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There are major new efforts underway to make it easier for rural people to get access to mental-health services. People in many of America’s remote areas have long lacked such access. Even when they have it, many must deal with the stigma, particularly strong in rural areas, of mental illness. That stigma may be fading. And the increasing awareness of the tight links between mental and   behavioral health  and “physical health” is helping to focus more attention on mental-health services.

An article in discusses these changes. Among its observations:

“Despite all of the obstacles, a movement toward changing the balance of access and care in rural regions is showing signs of life. It flickered in 2008 with a federal mental health parity law that required insurers to offer behavioral health services on par with primary care ones. But that rule has not been rigorously enforced. Now, spurred by aspects of the Affordable Care Act and by technology that can bring virtual care to those who need it, rural mental health experts see the new wave of innovation as a means of bringing much-needed help to counties. “We’ve just recently finished what I like to think of as chapter one in the story of mental health in rural America,” says Ron Manderscheid, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, referring to the 2008 law. “I want to focus on chapter two, which is ever-evolving.”

To read the article, please hit this link.

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