Stories

The dire state of rural mental health care

A corn farm
Photo: John Fedele/Getty Images

There is one psychiatrist in eastern Montana, the state with the highest suicide rate in the country, reports Bloomberg.

Why it matters: That's reflective of the availability of mental health care throughout the country, especially in rural areas. There's plenty of need, but not enough providers; in fact, the number of mental health providers has been falling for decades.

  • More psychiatrists are quitting than starting, and about 60% are older than 55.

Between the lines: Psychiatrists are often paid less than other doctors, they struggle with insurance reimbursement, and the job can be incredibly stressful.

  • As the contrast between rural and urban places becomes more stark, it's also hard to convince doctors to live in increasingly strained, isolated communities.

The big picture: Suicide rates are spiking, especially in rural areas, which have a seen a 52% increase in suicides since 1999 compared to urban areas' 15% increase. And rural life isn't getting any easier.

Go deeper: The rural America death spiral