David Clove

Publication Date



poverty, mental health, physical health, inequality, Mental Health First Aid




In the United States, people living in rural areas face significant disparities in access to healthcare, quality of treatment, and the presence of chronic physical and mental ailments. Given their geographic isolation, it is relatively difficult for these individuals to seek emergency care, an issue that is exacerbated by socioeconomic gaps. These relationships flow in both directions-health and wealth often rise and fall in unison. Rural individuals also have to travel further to access healthcare, and the number of practitioners is sparse in comparison to metropolitan areas. Cultural and behavioral risks such as smoking, as well as the aforementioned shortage of healthcare professionals working in rural communities, contribute to disparities in both outcomes and access. One consequence of these disparities is that, in the United States, individuals living in rural areas also have life expectancies that are roughly two years shorter than their urban peers. Governmental and non-profit organizations have each instituted programs aimed at mitigating these disparities, but the gaps continue to widen. Programs like Mental Health First Aid can offer resources to the public that will help them bridge the gaps that rural people face in accessing quality, affordable healthcare.