Where to Start: Accessing Mental Health Resources in Rural Utah


Photo Courtesy of USDA

Written by Michele Weaver

People, no matter where they live, should have access to high-quality mental and behavioral health care.

While society is getting more comfortable discussing mental health, it can still be difficult knowing where to start when it comes to taking care of your own well-being.

The Biden-Harris Administration has been clear about its commitment to making sure people, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality health care by expanding high speed internet and telehealth services to rural and tribal communities across the nation.

This year, as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, and we think about where to start, we want to make sure the conversation includes just how important it is for people in the most remote parts of the country to have access to these services.

I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges people living in rural parts of Utah have in accessing the mental and behavioral health care resources they need and deserve. These challenges are especially true for people living on Tribal lands who have been underserved for far too long.

That’s why USDA Rural Development is committed to providing resources and services that improve the overall health and wellness in rural communities, which includes addressing behavioral health challenges and the nation’s mental health crisis.

In Utah, we are working hard to empower people and organizations in rural areas with the information they need to take full advantage of our programs designed specifically to support mental and behavioral health. In doing so, we help create and sustain economic prosperity in our rural communities.

And through the recently launched USDA Rural Health webpage, we are even better equipped than before to share information, data, and USDA resources that can directly improve mental and behavioral health in rural and tribal communities.

USDA is also working with partners like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure people in rural areas have access to the care they need through resources like the 2024 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and Federal Action Plan.

In addition to these invaluable resources, I’ve been proud to champion funding opportunities through programs like Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants, Community Facilities, and Rural Emergency Health Care Grants.

For example, in November USDA Rural Development Utah partnered with Gunnison Valley Hospital to improve access to mental and behavioral health services to ten locations in Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties. A Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant for $719,715 is reducing distance barriers by using telehealth equipment and programs to help providers deliver mental health care and substance abuse treatment to rural patients.

Throughout May, USDA Rural Development is sharing success stories and resources we have available to improve mental and behavioral health across the country.

USDA also is facilitating mental health events throughout the month including a webinar on how to support mental health needs in the workplace. The webinar will be live on Tuesday, May 21 at 1:30 pm ET – 3 pm ET. Register here.

We welcome you to join us this Mental Health Awareness Month as we explore “Where to Start.”

You can learn more about our programs by visiting our website or by calling (801) 524-4320.

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