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 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, from 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," says Warren. "So people find it difficult to come and make their appointments.”
Warren says in Grant County, mental health providers manage a fleet of vehicles and take their practice on the road. And that costs more.