Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Rural Mental Health Funding Called a Good Start

Northwest mental health experts are cautiously optimistic about a new federal grant program. But they call it a modest attempt to improve mental health care in rural areas.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday, the federal Department of Agriculture’s plans to spend up to $50 million over the next three years.

Northwest mental health providers say there’s a shortage of hospital beds and services in the rural areas. Bernadine Warren with the Grant County Integrated Services in Moses Lake, Washington says even public transportation is a huge challenge. 

“When you’re in a rural community like Grant County, where we have a very large land area and a small population that’s spread out over that land area, we have one public transportation provider for the entire area, for 3,000 square miles. So people find it difficult to come and make their appointments,” Warren said.

In Grant County, said Warren, mental health providers manage a fleet of vehicles and take their practice on the road, which adds to costs. 

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.