Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Renita Ellis


mental health, rural mental healthcare, provider shortage, disparity of care


Health Information Technology | Public Health


This study examined the dire issue of mental health provider shortages in rural communities in the South, exploring the unique challenges faced by rural communities in the United States. Rural communities often struggle with limited access to mental health resources, resulting in disparities in care and exacerbating the burden on individuals facing mental health challenges. This study examines existing literature, highlighting the complex nature of the problem, including geographical, socioeconomic, cultural factors, and biblical perspectives that contribute to the shortage of mental health professionals in rural communities. Instrumental challenges identified include the shortage of credentialed mental professionals, lack of healthcare investment, geographical barriers, and stigma surrounding mental health. This study also discusses the impact of these challenges on the overall well-being of rural communities compared with their urban counterparts, emphasizing the need for intervention to fill the gap in mental health care delivery. In examining potential solutions, this study examines innovative approaches such as telemedicine initiatives, cross-state licensure, and incentives for mental health professionals to practice in rural areas. It emphasizes the importance of community engagement, cultural competence, and local, state, and federal coordination for better outcomes. The study concludes by underscoring the urgency of addressing the mental health provider shortage in rural communities to enhance access to quality care and improve the overall mental health outcomes for residents in these underserved areas.