Local News

Less Mental Health Care in Rural Counties, According to Study

MESA COUNTY, Colo. - There's a shortage of mental health professionals in rural areas across the country, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. That's a big deal, especially when the study said 43.4 million Americans over the age of 18 have experienced behavioral issues.

The study examined the amount of psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners across the country. In Mesa County we have those resources, and the study considered our county an urban area. However, the study shows Delta County only has somewhere between one and five psychiatrists per 100,000 people, and Montrose County is not doing much better, as they fall between five and fifteen psychiatrists per 100,000 people.

Even though we may have more mental health resources than our rural neighbors, one local counselor said we have such a high need that it would be wise to have more.

Scott Aber is a licensed professional counselor, who also specializes in addiction counseling. He said he hears about a lot of untreated depression, and also has clients who drive all the way to Grand Junction from Montrose, Delta, and Olathe. That makes sense, as the study found 65% of non-metropolitan counties do not have a single psychiatrist, and 47% do not have a psychologist. "Big problem in Grand Junction and Mesa County is not enough psychiatrists to help prescribe the medication, but it's kind of a one-two-punch... Therapy's also needed to deal with depression and anxiety and drug abuse issues," said Aber.

If you or anyone you know is in need of a helping hand, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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