Highlighting the issue of rural disparities in mental health care access is important to Camden Behavioral Wellness and is a central component of our mission. As stated in our “About Us” tab, CBW formed as a result of volunteer board members wanting to address unmet behavioral healthcare needs in Camden County. For instance, residents in our county have faced having to travel up to 50 miles to access psychiatric care and difficulty with month long wait lists for appointments.
Since 2014, more than 20 Georgia hospitals have been given a total of $12 million through the efforts of Georgia’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee (RHSC). In addition to reducing hospitals’ excess costs in rural areas, this funding has also been used to create mental health programs. Considering that Georgia itself is classified as a federally underserved area in regards to mental health care, there is still much work to be done to bridge the gaps in access to care.
This is a map of the Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas in Georgia.
Despite findings that the prevalence of mental illness is similar for metropolitan and rural areas, rural communities specifically face challenges with the following three factors according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE): accessibility, availability, and acceptability.
Accessibility, availability, and acceptability are all important factors when it comes to ensuring people receive the mental health treatment they need.
In order to resolve issues that stem from more than 60% of rural Americans living in mental health shortage areas, it is important to prioritize the advocacy and integrative efforts being made to create comprehensive continuums of care in rural areas. It is the goal of CBW to work towards this issue in pursuit of providing convenient and coordinated care for the residents of Camden County.