Mental Health Options for Farmers and Others in Rural Areas

These are trying times with current financial issues, trade, commodity prices, weather, and a host of other problems that can cause stress on yourself and those around you. According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, 91% of rural adults and 82% of farmers/farmworkers state that mental health is essential to them or their families. Yet, only one in three (31%) have personally sought care, and with family members, the numbers are one in four (24%).

The reasons cited for the low amount of people seeking help are cost, social stigma and embarrassment makes it harder for them to seek help or treatment for mental health conditions. The same poll found that a majority of rural adults (75%) say that it is essential to reduce the stigma of seeking help in the agriculture community, and two-thirds of farmers/farmworkers state the same.

One way to reduce the stigma, embarrassment, and a less costly option could be by using online access to a therapist. There are several companies that offer the service through either your computer or phone. Before you use this service, the American Psychological Association has a few guidelines regarding this type of therapy:

Is the site or app secure? Will the information I provide remain confidential?

Psychologists ensure that clients have a safe, private space to share deeply personal and sometimes difficult stories, thoughts, or emotions. Except for a few situations, what is said to a therapist stays there. The site or app you use should be HIPAA-compliant and can verify your identity and your therapist’s identity. Beyond HIPPA compliance, most apps are also encrypted, protecting what is shared between you and the therapist.

Is the therapist licensed?

All psychologists and other professional health providers must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure laws protect you by ensuring only those who are trained and qualified to practice. Before you sign up for any Web services, find out if he or she has a license, where that license is held and the license number. Most states offer an online, searchable directory of professionals licensed in their state.

How will you pay for the service?

Many insurance companies cover the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders for in-person psychotherapy. If you work with a psychologist in their office, some are exploring using online sites or apps as a companion to in-person therapy to offer additional help. However, online therapy or web-based therapy are often not covered or reimbursable by most insurance providers. Check with your insurance company first, if you plan to be reimbursed as you may have to pay the full cost yourself. Some apps will advertise pricing that provides unlimited access for a weekly or monthly fee. If you’re not interested in using insurance for psychotherapy, this can be a benefit.

Online communication can provide easy access and be very comfortable for people.

In rural communities getting to an appointment could be an obstacle as it is either a few hours away or you do not have the time to get to an appointment. More people are using technology to communicate, and it can seem more comfortable or easier than talking to someone in person, especially when revealing private information.

 

To help you navigate some of the companies that offer online access to a therapist, here is a comparison of some of the largest:

Mental health apps

If you prefer talking with a counselor who offers low-cost therapy and also offers remote therapy, Open Path psychotherapy collective may be another option to consider. Therapy sessions are between $30 and $60, but they are not be covered by insurance. Their remote therapy service offered, is access to a psychotherapist through a cellular phone or the internet, either in place of or in addition to the traditional face-to-face therapy sessions. Not all therapists offer this service, and Open Path recommends that you find one in your state should you, and your therapist decide to use the feature.

In addition to these tools, there are several meditation apps that are free or low cost. Meditation has been shown to help ease anxiety, stress, and depression. While it cannot provide counseling or therapy, The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)  has a helpline that can provide answers to some of the mental health issues you may have such as the symptoms or treatment options.

If you are facing mental health issues, there are options which may help break down some of the barriers associated with seeking help. Online access is a possibility for people who cannot travel to a therapist or want a less costly option. They also offer a convenient and more relaxed alternative. If you are still not comfortable with any of these options, talk with your doctor, pastor, a member of the clergy, or a close friend. It is crucial to deal with issues of mental health and acknowledge when there is a problem; these are some of the options to cope with the problem and to seek help.