SAMHSA Resources for Rural Populations

Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series

The SAMHSA DBHIS contains themed installments of resources and toolkits in disaster behavioral health. Each installment focuses on a specific population, disaster type, or other topic pertinent to disaster behavioral health preparedness, response, and recovery. Several DBHIS collections contain sub-headings devoted to materials intended for behavioral health professionals and providers.  All of the installments can be found from the main page (

The Rural Populations DBHIS installment presents information unique to rural communities that should be considered in the development and implementation of behavioral health preparedness and response plans. It can be found at

The resources included in this installment include the following:

  • General Considerations—Information on rural communities including traits attributed to this population, their general attitudes toward mental health and substance abuse, and issues related to behavioral health service delivery with potential application to rural communities affected by disasters.
  • Community and Faith-Based Approaches—Resources with a focus on faith- and community-based approaches that can be applied to disaster behavioral health outreach strategies for rural communities. Includes guidance on the benefits of using telehealth technology as an alternative and supportive method for delivery of behavioral health services.

Disaster Mental Health: Crisis Counseling Programs for the Rural Community

This SAMHSA publication addresses the unique qualities of rural communities in the context of a crisis counseling program. Guidelines are provided for developing an effective crisis counseling program for rural areas.

Other Rural Behavioral Health Resources

America's Under-served Communities: A Group Discussion on the Challenges of Rural Emergency Management

This article discusses how the challenges of emergency management are different for rural communities than for urban ones. It categorizes the challenges into four major themes:

  • Resource limitation
  • Separation and remoteness
  • Low population density
  • Communication

This article can be found at    

A full transcript can be found at

Crisis Intervention in Rural Communities: A Cultural Catch-22

This article from the online Journal of Rural Community Psychology describes the difficulties mental health practitioners face when providing mental health care in rural communities in the aftermath of a traumatic event.  Recommendations are provided for training local service personnel as well as for increased cultural awareness among mental health practitioners.

The Critical Need for Psychologists in Rural America: Rural Americans Are At Risk for Mental Disorders & Chronic Illness

The American Psychological Association provides information on the barriers that rural Americans face in accessing psychological care.

Disaster Recovery in Rural Communities: A Case Study of Southwest Louisiana

This paper provides a descriptive case study to develop a better understanding of the disaster recovery and rebuilding process in the three counties in South Louisiana that were hardest hit by Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Journal of Rural Community Psychology (JRCP)

The JRCP is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal published in electronic form (no subscription required) by Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia.

National Association for Rural Mental Health

The National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH) is a membership organization that promotes the unification of members of the rural mental health community to develop and enhance mental health and substance abuse services in rural communities. This website contains information about NARMH membership, upcoming conferences, and publications related to rural mental health issues.

Preparedness and Response to a Rural Mass Casualty Incident

Problems contacting emergency services and delayed assistance are not unusual when incidents occur in rural areas, and the consequences can be devastating, particularly with mass casualty incidents. This paper discusses a workshop that examined the current capabilities of emergency response systems and the future opportunities to improve mass casualty response in rural communities.

Recognize and Manage the Stress of Farm Life (Attached)

This tip sheet provides common signs of stress and coping strategies for farmers.

Rural Assistance Center (RAC)

A product of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Rural Initiative, the RAC helps rural communities and other rural stakeholders access the full range of available programs, funding, and research in order to provide quality health and human services to rural residents.

Information and questions specific to rural mental health can be found here:

Rural Behavioral Health Programs and Promising Practices

Published in June 2011 by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Rural Health Policy, this document describes characteristics of programs identified as promising practices throughout the country. The descriptions of these programs can be found in Appendix C.

Rural Health Research Gateway

This online resource provides access to all of the research and findings of the nine ORHP-funded Rural Health Research Centers and Policy Analysis Initiatives.  Its aim is to “help us better understand the problems that rural communities face in their efforts to access high-quality, affordable health care, and to lead healthier lives.”

Rural Healthy People 2010

The objectives of the Rural Healthy People 2010 project are to employ a survey of state and local rural health leaders to identify rural health priorities, to synthesize available research and other publications on these priorities, to identify and describe models for practice employed by rural communities to address these priorities, and to disseminate this information to rural communities.

Rural Resources from the American Psychological Association (APA)

The APA provides a list of resources focused on the psychological needs of rural communities. Links are included to locate scholarly journals, research, grants, telehealth guidelines, as well as associations and agencies focusing on rural health issues.