A teen lives in a rural area and learns that Charlie Health is an option for healing.

How Charlie Health Is Addressing the Rural Mental Health Crisis

4 min.

Where you live shouldn’t determine your access to mental healthcare, but, unfortunately, it does for many people living in the rural United States. Keep reading to see how Charlie Health aims to fill this gap and address the rural mental health crisis.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini

December 26, 2023


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Table of Contents

About one in five people living in the rural United States deal with mental health issues — rates that are consistent across the nation, data shows. However, it’s well-documented that those living in rural areas tend to receive less mental health treatment (especially specialized treatment) compared to their metropolitan counterparts. Within the past several years, though, telehealth services have emerged as one solution to the rural mental health crisis, with research showing virtual care improves well-being in areas facing mental healthcare disparities. 

Charlie Health, the leading provider of virtual Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP), is committed to providing the world with lifesaving mental health treatment, specifically including those living in rural areas. Below, we outline some of the most alarming rural mental health disparities and highlight how Charlie Health is working to address the rural mental health crisis.

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Where you live shouldn’t determine your access to care

We offer personalized, virtual care for clients living in rural areas.

5 ways Charlie Health is addressing the rural mental health crisis

Our clinicians bring care to rural provider shortage areas

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) estimates that over 60% of rural Americans live in designated mental health provider shortage areas. Also, as many as 65% of non-metropolitan counties do not have psychiatrists. These mental healthcare disparities are well-documented, affecting millions of people across the country.

Charlie Health aims to fill this gap, bringing mental healthcare to under resourced areas. In the 27 states (and counting) that we serve, more than half of our clients (about 60%) live in an area experiencing a mental health worker shortage. Our virtual care model, accessible by design, aims to close that gap, democratizing access to high-quality care for high acuity clients. 

We also fill the mental healthcare gap for children in rural areas

As mentioned, rates of mental health issues are similar between rural and urban adults, but children in rural communities face higher instances of mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders compared to their urban counterparts, data shows. The mental health provider shortage in rural areas is especially pronounced when it comes to adolescent care, as there is a dearth of adolescent mental health specialists in rural areas, according to the same study. As a company that specifically treats young people, Charlie Health works to fill this gap, too, offering treatment options geared to children and adolescents. 

Insurance partnerships make our IOP accessible for rural clients

Affordability is a common reason why rural Americans can’t utilize healthcare services, including mental healthcare. For example, U.S. census data shows that people living in rural counties lack health insurance at higher rates than their urban counterparts. Also, those who do have insurance (especially children) often have Medicaid, data shows. In order to prioritize accessibility, Charlie Health accepts major commercial insurance providers nationwide, as well as Medicaid in many states, making our IOP an affordable option for many.

We combat the rural suicide crisis with high acuity care

Research consistently shows that suicide rates differ based on where you live. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people living in rural areas are nearly twice as at risk of committing suicide compared to those living in large metropolitan areas. This is far from a singular data point: CDC data shows that overall suicide rates increase as an area becomes more rural and less dense.

Charlie Health specializes in high acuity mental healthcare, including treatment for clients struggling with thoughts of suicide. Data shows that over half of Charlie Health clients report passive suicidal thoughts at intake (56%), but that number drops to just 18% at discharge. And, of the roughly one-third of clients who report active suicidal thoughts at the beginning of treatment (37%), only 11% are dealing with those thoughts at discharge. Our IOP’s efficacy in addressing suicidal thoughts among young people stands to specifically benefit clients in rural areas who are more at risk of suicide.  

Our personalized care model is tailored to rural veterans  

Veterans tend to live in rural areas at a higher rate than non-military Americans. While 19% of the general population lives in rural areas, nearly one-quarter of veterans do, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Charlie Health takes a personalized approach to mental healthcare, including an accessible, curated mental health program for military family members. This military-specific programming is tailored to meet the unique needs of military families, with outcomes that speak for themselves—research shows that our program leads to decreased anxiety and depression symptoms and increased daily functioning for military family members. 

Mental healthcare for rural clients at Charlie Health

If you or a loved one are living in a rural part of the country and need high acuity mental healthcare, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers more than once-weekly support for young people across the country dealing with complex mental health conditions. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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