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Call to Action: Family Therapy and Rural Mental Health

ABSTRACT

Rural communities experience considerable disparities in mental health. Research about this topic is limited, however, especially in the family therapy field. What is known comes primarily from work in other disciplines, which points to three primary barriers that prevent rural communities from accessing high quality mental health care: availability, accessibility, and acceptability of services. A search for papers published over the past 20 years in family journals yielded only 18 articles. A review of these articles in presented here, alongside a call for family clinicians and researchers to advance further contributions. Specific directions for such research are discussed, including telehealth technology, collaboration with existing structures and institutions in rural communities, and the need for more precise definitions and measures of rurality. Family clinicians and researchers are uniquely positioned to conceptualize systemic challenges that rural communities face, and would be advised to join other disciplines in developing innovative methods to address them.