Last Thursday we were treated to Haley’s first presentation with us entitled
“ Small Town Living “
Haley shared with us she grew up in Alliance, which has a population of approximately 8,000. She wanted to share with us what it was like to live in a small town, if you happen to be someone experiencing mental health issues.
She also shared that there were many pros and cons of living in a small town.
And statistics state that there are only 3 psychiatrists for every 100,000 in population, which meant that Alliance most likely did not have more than three. Statistics also state that there are higher rates of addiction and the suicidal rates are higher in smaller towns. There is also a lot of stigma in a small town if you have mental health issues, something we are all familiar with.
Haley mentioned that many psychiatric practices end up closing and move into hospitals, where they started to lose that personal touch. For awhile the psychiatrists offices in hospitals in small towns only consisted of a couple of folding chairs in a room, but apparently those conditions have improved somewhat in recent years.
People in small towns also seem to get discouraged in the small town setting, and tend to seek out their regular General Physician for help rather than a psychiatrist. This option may not be the greatest, as truly it is best to have a regular psychiatrist to help you with your mental health needs.
During a recent study of 500 people over the age of 60, 478 of those 500 were found to believe the mental health stigma that is so common these days.
In a small town there are many businessmen who are farmers, and even though these folks may need mental health assistance, they usually cannot afford the help. Many of them may be struggling financially and may also be on Medicare or Medicaid, with little to no coverage. Also most who live in a small town, and who happen to be struggling with mental health issues, have so much shame for their feelings that they are afraid to seek help.
For a long time there was a big lack of education on mental health, and many teachers were not educated on mental health issues. However things are starting to change a little bit for the better.
Haley shared that a school district in western Nebraska has now started to come together and has now budgeted every year for mental health care.
Every Summer a Doctor in this area hosts teens from across the state to take part in FARM camp. High school students attending this camp can take a class for college credit, receive education on psychology, and hear from mental health professionals . This program helps to educate teachers and parents on mental health. Haley also noted that 78 counties in Nebraska have no psychiatrists, so this is a great way to help fulfill that need!