Access to Mental Health Services and Family Burden of Rural Children with Significant Mental Health Problems

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2008
Project completed:
October 2010

Problem: Policies can and should be developed to better meet the mental health needs of these children and provide the support needed by their families. However, a major limitation is the lack of research on how well the needs of children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) are currently being met in rural areas. Additionally, although there are reasons to believe the burden these problems place on families is higher in rural areas, evidence to support this assumption is limited. We also lack information about how different factors, such as child's age or family work status, affect how well the needs of children and their families are met across the rural continuum.

Methods: The National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) and information on community characteristics from the Area Resource File (ARF) provide rich data sources to describe these interrelationships and to examine the determinants of whether children and their families have their needs meet across the rural continuum. Using the NS-CSHCN and the ARF, we will address following research questions:

  • What is the prevalence of children with SED across the rural continuum?
  • How does the level of need for mental health services for children with SED vary across the rural continuum?
  • How well are the mental health needs of these children met across the rural continuum?
  • What is the level of burden on these children's families across the rural continuum? and
  • What role do enabling, need, and predisposing factors play in whether or not the mental health needs of children with SED and their families are met across the rural continuum?

Products: Anticipated products include a Working Paper and associated Research & Policy Brief, along with submission to a peer-reviewed journal such as the Maternal and Child Health Journal, the Journal of Rural Health, or Pediatrics. Lead researchers will submit abstracts for presentation to the National Rural Health Association, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (which represents state Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs Program administrators), and AcademyHealth.


Publications

  • Access to Mental Health Services and Family Impact of Rural Children with Mental Health Problems
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2010
    Rural children are more likely to have mental health problems, to have behavioral difficulties, and to be usually or always affected by their conditions than urban children. Rural children also are more likely to go without access to all parent-reported needed mental health services, and their families spend more time coordinating their care.
  • Mental Health Problems Have Considerable Impact on Rural Children and their Families
    Policy Brief
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2010
    This policy brief provides information on the prevalence of children's mental health needs and associated access to care and family impact across rural and urban areas. Analyses are based on the 2005-06 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.