Over 50 percent of Americans are dealing with negative mental health effects as a result of the unprecedented realities of 2020 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This increased need for mental and behavioral health services is even greater for those individuals and families living in rural areas where many communities don’t have local psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers to rely on, and services and other social programs are scarce. In addition, obstacles such as cost and stigma also prevent people living in rural communities from seeking help or treatment for a mental health condition.
In January 2021, Cambia Health Solutions and its regional health plans across Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington donated more than $11.5 million to 17 non-profit organizations to help meet the urgent mental and behavioral health needs intensified by COVID-19 in local rural communities. Funding was directed toward three main areas that will help reduce the stigma and inequalities surrounding mental health and wellbeing that people living in rural areas face.
- Crisis Response - 24/7 support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress
- Capacity Expansion - to meet current and emerging needs
- Reducing Stigma - break down barriers that prevent individuals from seeking services
Since the initial investments were made, many recipient organizations have released their own announcements or shared stories about specific support services, projects or helping people in need. Read below to learn more about a few of these great programs as well as details on the communities being served.
- In Washington, nine regional Accountable Communities of Health (ACH) are building health system capacity through telemedicine and workforce training, transform care delivery to provide integrated physical and behavioral health services and drive community-led change.
- Greater Columbia Valley Accountable Community of Health launched Practice the Pause, a resiliency campaign offering training to 140,000 students and their parents.
- The Cascade Pacific Action Alliance announced plans to roll out new mental health capabilities with a mobile behavioral health clinic.
- The Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health plans to invest in the K-Link Rural Behavioral Health Project to improve mental health first aid and stigma reduction programs and address inequitable access for multilingual and isolated communities.
- Okanogan Behavioral HealthCare will use the funding for substance or opioid abuse disorder treatment.
- The Olympic Community of Health will focus on reducing stigma related to substance use disorder.
- North Central Accountable Community of Health will work on improving broadband coverage, telehealth and bolstering the behavioral health workforce.
- Healthier Here will address key needs for behavioral health services and support.
- Better Health Together is supporting an expansion of mental health telehealth for youth in school districts and tribal members.
- At North Sound Accountable Community of Health the support is focused on telehealth and strengthening the behavioral health workforce in rural areas.
- In Idaho, the Idaho Primary Care Association will expand Idaho’s community health centers to improve rural behavioral health access in 52 communities through stigma reduction initiative and workforce development. In addition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Idaho will focus on Idahoans’ mental wellness across the entire state, especially in underserved and rural areas, and hire new staff to grow an existing peer support network within its six local affiliates.
- In Utah, the Huntsman Mental Health Institute is addressing rural provider shortages and improving mental health services in rural communities throughout Utah. Utah’s Division of Multicultural Affairs created the Multicultural Rural Mental Health Grant to support nonprofit organizations serving the behavioral health of multicultural communities and to reduce associated stigma and inequalities.
- In Oregon, Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Institute will support Social Determinants of Health needs for individuals with persistent mental illness or serious substance use disorders who are at risk.
Find a full list of our rural behavioral health community partners in our January strategic rural mental health investment announcement.