Improving mental health opportunities in rural Canada
People living in rural areas share specific challenges and opportunities related to mental health care. Research on rural and remote mental health has tended to focus on what is lacking: specialized health services, health professionals, public transportation systems, education about mental health issues, and support for family caregivers.
Recognizing these challenges, Dr. Rachel Herron’s research involves working with rural communities to improve existing opportunities and create better access to and support for mental health services and well-being in rural areas. She is the Canada Research Chair in Rural and Remote Mental Health.
Herron uses a range of different methods, including surveys, diaries, interviews, and observational research to develop a better understanding of the diverse experiences of mental health. She also explores the strengths, vulnerabilities and resilience of family and friend care networks. Her goal is to enhancing the sustainability of this kind of support.
Working with people with mental health conditions, family members, and community care providers, she is also using technology and arts-based approaches to improve care opportunities for people with mental health conditions in rural communities.
Herron’s research will assess the effectiveness of community initiatives in rural and remote areas to improve an individual’s sense of well-being, as well as their access to health care and social services. Her findings will have direct relevance for on future programming and policy initiatives. Most importantly, it will give a voice to the experiences of people with mental health conditions in rural and remote Canada, which is often unheard.