Stigma is Common for Residents of Rural Communities

Mar 22, 2024

Isolation, concerns about confidentiality, and a tradition of self-reliance can lead to significant stigma for individuals with mental health challenges living in rural communities. In addition, most rural areas lack adequate mental health services.

According to NAMI, among U.S adults in non-metropolitan areas compared to suburban and urban residents, rural Americans must travel twice as far to their nearest hospital and are twice as likely to lack broadband internet which limits access to telehealth.

NAMI also reports that more than 25 million rural Americans live in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area, where there are too few providers to meet demand. where Rural youth are at an increased risk of suicide, yet highly rural areas have fewer youth suicide prevention services.

Rural areas have 20 percent fewer primary care providers than urban areas.

A Facebook Live event to discuss mental health stigma in rural communities will be held in March. Panelists include Jeffrey Winton, Founder and Chairman of Rural Minds™; and Connie Desmarais, Community Coalitions Coordinator, Niagara County Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services.

The event is free and open to the public. Questions from viewer are welcome during the presentation. is a non-profit organization created to serve as the informed voice for mental health in rural America and provide mental health information and resources.

“Compared to people who live in urban areas, rural Americans experience higher rates of depression and suicide, but are less likely to access mental healthcare services. Suicide rates among people living in rural areas are 64% to 68% higher compared to people living in large urban areas.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health, suicide or substance use crisis or emotional distress, call 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 716-834-3131, reach out 24/7 to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) by dialing or texting 988 or using chat services at to connect to a trained crisis counselor. You can also get crisis text support via the Crisis Text Line by texting NAMI to 741741.

Jeffrey Winton

Rural Minds™ Founder and Chairman



of rural counties do not have a psychiatrist.


of rural counties do not have a child psychiatrist.


of rural counties do not have a psychiatric nurse practitioner.


of rural homes lack access to broadband.


  • Self-imposed barrier of asking for help when taught to pursue self-reliance as a virtue.
  • Lack of trust in anyone to maintain confidentiality in a small, close-knit community.
  • Fear of negative judgement from others as being incompetent or less capable
  • Difficulty getting an appointment with limited availability of mental health professionals.
  • Time and transportation required for long-distance travel to meet with a mental health professional.
  • Unreliable, expensive, or nonexistent internet service for online video or telehealth appointments.
  • Lack of adequate health insurance coverage.
  • Feeling of isolation without having access to talk with someone outside of the community who understands mental health challenges.

Tragically, due to insufficient services for those most in need, the mental health crisis responder for most rural Americans is a law enforcement officer.

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