Access to mental health services in rural Minnesota is a growing issue. In a report from 2015, more than 50 counties in Minnesota had no permanent supportive housing for mentally ill adults, and nearly 40 had no adult assertive community treatment services. In a report from the Minnesota Hospital Association indicated that from 2007 to 2014, there was a 40% increase in emergency department use for mental health encounters in greater Minnesota, compared to only a 34% increase in the Twin Cities.
I chose this subject because I have lived in a rural county since childhood and have dealt with mental health issues throughout my life. Federal and state elected officials need to increase funding to improve access to mental health services, particularly in rural areas in Minnesota.
One of the biggest factors facing rural counties are the low number of mental health providers in these areas. One possible solution is to create a grant program for mental health providers in these rural areas. In addition to grant funds for education loan repayments, higher reimbursement rates for rural providers and increased insurance coverage, particularly in public programs, could help address access to mental health.