Accessing mental health resources in rural Ohio


At U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development we are committed to ensuring people, no matter where they live, have access to health care by expanding high speed internet and partnering with local medical providers to bring telehealth services to rural communities across the nation. And we know that access to mental and behavioral health care can exponentially increase quality of life for people everywhere.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and USDA and the Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that even those living in the most remote areas of the country have access to these services. It’s no secret that even in Ohio those living in rural areas face challenges accessing the mental and behavioral health care resources they need.

That’s why USDA Rural Development is committed to providing resources and services that improve health and wellness in rural communities.

In Ohio, we are working to empower people and organizations in rural areas with information and funding to take full advantage of programs supporting mental and behavioral health. In doing so, we create and sustain prosperity in our rural communities.

And through the recently launched USDA Rural Health webpage, we are even better positioned than before to share information, data, and USDA resources that directly improve access to mental and behavioral health resources in rural communities.

USDA is also working with partners like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure people in rural areas have access to the care they need through resources like the 2024 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and Federal Action Plan.

In addition to these resources, I’ve been proud to champion investments through programs like our Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program that have a direct impact on supporting access to health care.

For example, we recently announced a $1 million investment with the Jefferson Area Local Schools in Ashtabula County to establish six hub and/or end user sites equipped to deliver one-on-one or group educational classes and conduct tele-behavioral health or telemedicine services. When operational, the system is expected to provide services to more than 1,600 students and 3,600 community members.

Throughout May, USDA Rural Development is sharing success stories and resources we have available to improve mental and behavioral health across the country.

To learn more about our programs, we invite you to visit our website or call 614-255-2400.

Jonathan McCracken is state director for USDA Rural Development in Ohio. Recently, he served as a senior advisor to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). For the past 15 years, he served in legislative positions in agriculture, rural development, food, nutrition, energy, and environmental policy. Prior to working formBrown, he worked for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. A native of Wilmington, Ohio, he is a graduate of Wake Forest University and earned his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

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