People living in rural areas are confronted with unique challenges when it comes to caring for their mental health. In Gloversville, they're trying unique services to help.

What You Need To Know

  • Rural areas have 20% fewer primary care providers than urban areas, according to Mental Health America

  • 65% of rural counties do not have a psychiatrist

  • Suicide rates are higher in rural areas

It starts with a phone call from a school, seeking help with a student in crisis. As the mobile crisis counselor, Jamal Vasquez is the connector from child in crisis to a path forward.

"When I respond from a crisis, I'm usually the first person that a family or parents have encountered in regards to mental health and just being that first person, it allows me to kind of connect them with the resources that we do provide here," said Vasquez.

The Family Counseling Center's Mobile Crisis Unit is just one of the unique services offered in Fulton County to address the rural areas' unique mental health needs.

"We deal with a clientele that many have generational trauma,"said Jennifer Jennings, the marketing and fundraising director for the Family Counseling Center. "Gloversville specifically was one of the richest cities in the country at one point and then with globalization and the change in fashion — we were glove capital of the world — those industries left and nothing really ever came back to fulfill that spot economically. So, we're dealing with folks who have had low, low employment for multiple generations or limited employment availability. Again, because we have limited transportation, we have low car ownership, we have issues like that."

According to Mental Health America, rural areas have 20% fewer primary care providers than urban areas and 65% of rural counties do not have a psychiatrist. Suicide rates are higher, too, with 18.3-20.5 incidents per 100,000 residents, while urban areas see 10.9-12.5 incidents per 100,000 residents.

"Nationally, there are three issues with accessing mental health care," said Jennings. "One is accessibility. Is there somebody in the area that can help you? The second is availability. Are you available to get to that space? And the other is, is accountability. So a lot of people in smaller communities, they feel as if they cannot access because they will be judged for seeking help."

With a shortage of mental health professionals across the board, sign-up bonuses, commuter bonuses and a hybrid schedule are being offered.

For clients, there is a telehealth room to address lack of a wireless Internet and an on-site pharmacy and drop-in center to make immediate care more accessible.

It's all part of a bigger picture: Improving mental health leads to a domino effect, improving the whole person.

"We know once we see somebody, they trust us, they're likely to come back here," said Michael Countryman, the Family Counseling Center's executive director. "Then us saying to them, 'Listen, I'll write a referral to you, go see this other doctor, this other provider,' and most times you don't make it to that other provider. And there's just a breakdown. There's a huge breakdown there. So I would encourage everybody to look at their service lines and see the needs in their community and respond to those."