Date of Award


Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne Haskins

Second Advisor

Breann Lamborn

Third Advisor

Gail Bass/Devon Olson Lambert


“Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness,” which was approximately 51.1 million people in 2019 (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021, para. 1). This is an important issue within the country; however, it is not widely talked about, especially in rural areas. Research has shown that the prevalence of mental health conditions is consistent across urban and rural areas, but the stigma that surrounds mental health conditions is worse within rural communities (Thorne & Ebener, 2020). This has been attributed to the lack of access to resources, lack of knowledge about resources and mental health conditions in general, and lack of specialization of health professionals in these rural communities (Hoeft et al., 2018; Robinson, 2012; Thorne & Ebener, 2020). The definition and classification system for rural settings is difficult, as there is not one common definition (Rural Health Information HUB, 2019). For the purpose of this article, the definition of rural will follow that of the U.S. Census Bureau, which states that any area that is not considered to be an urban area or urban cluster is rural (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). This means that areas that have a population under 2,500 people will be considered rural, accounting for roughly 19% of the United States’ population, but a majority of the land area (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020).