Document Type

Policy Brief

Publication Date



Mental Health Diagnosis, Mental Health treatment, Children and Mental Health, Rural Health, MRHRC


Research indicates that privately insured, rural adults have lower use of office-based mental health services, but higher use of prescription medicines than their urban counterparts. Patterns for rural children may be different from urban children because of the limited supply of pediatric mental health providers in rural areas, which may lead to reduced access and lower use of mental health services in rural areas versus urban. Using data on children ages 5-17 from the 2002-2008 of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, researchers from the Maine Rural Health Research Center find that rural children are significantly less likely to be diagnosed and treated for non-ADHD mental health problems than urban children and are less likely to receive mental health counseling. The rural-urban difference is greatest among those children scoring in the “possible impairment” range on the Columbia Impairment Scale.

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