A Need for Mental Health Services

April 12, 2017

Lakemary is the closest point of access for mental health services and is located in Paola, KS.

Lakemary is the closest point of access for mental health services and is located in Paola, KS.

In recent months, mental health has come to the spotlight in the media. While it’s been called into view, there still really isn’t any focus on it and that needs to change. This national problem is also a local one as Louisburg itself has no large scale, governmentally funded mental health services. While there are a couple freelance counselors, the lack of an actual institute is a problem for those who need help.

There are three main reasons mental health services need to be provided in rural areas: accessibility, availability, and acceptability. According to a 2015 study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, residents of rural areas, like Louisburg, often have to travel far distances for services, are less likely to have mental health insurance, and are less likely to recognize a mental illness should they have it.

“Unfortunately this fact is an all too true reality for those who have mental illness in rural or poverty areas. We are lucky to be close enough to Overland Park, that it helps a little. I have worked in rural areas where there were no mental health options within an hour radius. It was incredibly sad because it made it so difficult to receive the proper care and attention for those with limited resources. The limited resources lead to people seeing it as a hardship to receive the proper treatment and heal, and not a necessity to heal like they would a broken arm or broken leg,” said LHS counselor, Amy Wright.

Because citizens are less likely to have that knowledge and insurance, mental health providers are more likely to practice in urban centers. When this happens, the issue is further complicated. Rural areas that are under-resourced are more likely to have a need for mental health care providers. According to HRSA data, areas with higher levels of unmet needs actually ended up having lower income levels than those with access.

There is also a stigma to needing to receive mental health care and without breaking that stigma, it’s hard to become accepting of mental health services. This leads to a further lack of services for those in need. The lack of trained professionals and businesses in rural areas only furthers that stigma and those barriers.