We are based in Athens and primarily serve rural Appalachian Ohio.

We are looking to collaborate with other rural and underserved communities to share knowledge about what works in mental health. We want to train peers and community stakeholders. Their experience and knowledge can help address health disparities and gaps in service negatively impacting the lives of individuals with chronic mental health conditions.

Mental Health Challenges in our Region

Ohio’s Appalachian residents are less likely to access health/behavioral health care due to workforce shortages, geographic isolation, and health-care coverage:

  • Most Appalachian counties (65%) have a shortage of mental health professionals even though rural communities experience much higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse.
  • Rural residents must travel great distances to obtain health care but often have no access to public transportation.
  • The risk of being uninsured among Ohio residents is highest in the
    Appalachian counties.

On the positive side, for nearly 150-years, Athens has been at the forefront of mental health treatment and support. This history began in 1874 when Athens developed a state mental health center modeled after Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride’s Asylum designs. For many years, the hospital was Athens’ largest employer.

As treatment evolved and more emphasis was placed on community-based services, Athens continued to serve as the site for Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare (one of six current state psychiatric hospitals) and maintains a service network through the Athens-Hocking-Vinton 317 Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board that provides both clinical treatment options and innovative, peer-driven services such as the Athens Photo Project and the Gathering Place!