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behavioral health, employment, adults, rural, MRHRC, mental health


This study addresses the issue of poor mental health among young to middle-career rural residents and how their employment may be affected. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a nationally representative survey of adults, the authors investigate how depressive symptoms affect employment patterns, and the extent to which such effects differ by rural and urban residence. Analysis of the data identified the rural sample as more likely to be married, have less education, are less likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have health insurance than the urban sample. For both rural and urban subjects, individuals with depressive symptoms work less than those not depressed. Although the findings indicate no significant difference between depressed rural and urban residents in maintaining employment, questions remain about rural access to mental health services, such as employee assistance, productivity on the job, and the survival or coping strategies of rural workers with depressive symptoms.


Working Paper No. 38

Funding Organization

This study was funded by a cooperative agreement from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS. The conclusions and opinions expressed in the paper are the authors’ and no endorsement by the University of Southern Maine or the funding source is intended or should be inferred.

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