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Mental Health Toolkit

Boosting Rural Mental Health Support

Use the content from our toolkit to discover new ways to engage in discussions about mental health and emotional wellness in rural communities, whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to enhance conversations you’re already having.

Mental health in rural communities is a complex topic. Certain barriers like stigma can make it feel difficult to talk about mental health, and there can be challenges with access to mental health resources and care.

But community leaders and organizations have made significant inroads to change narratives and inspire positive attitudes around mental wellness. To support that work, we've developed this research-based toolkit for people serving rural communities by creating high-impact and health-first initiatives. Mental health experts and community leaders were regularly consulted throughout the development process as well.

From social media graphics to video clips, we want these tools to help you educate yourself and others about the importance of emotional wellness.

Addressing A Mental Health Crisis

Community leaders and grassroots organizations are actively working to dismantle the apprehension, mistrust, and perceived judgment around getting help for mental health issues in rural communities.

Among Rural Americans:
  • 6 in 10 adults

    living in rural areas (63%) report experiencing a mental health condition like depression or anxiety.*
  • Less than half

    of them say they’re getting help or treatment.*
*Source: Ad Council 2023 Research

Our toolkit can help you as you work to change these perceptions and start positive conversations about mental health in your community.


Use this messaging guide to start or continue meaningful dialogues about mental health in rural communities. With these helpful stats and conversation starters, you can help inspire incremental change and create a positive, accepting environment to discuss emotional well-being.

It's Helpful To...

It May Not Be Helpful To…

Name the symptom (sleeplessness) and follow with the necessary vocabulary (depression) to help people understand.Avoid meditation or other “fluffy” tactics – instead, talk about concrete solutions like “take a walk to clear your mind”.
Use terms like “stress” or feeling “worried” or “anxious” to speak in plainly understood language.Don’t overly valorize rural communities (i.e. “you provide for our country”). It can land negatively.
People need actionable steps – tactics to build mental resilience, discussion prompts, or how to intervene if you are concerned for someone.Avoid political implications (incl. colors and language).
Authentically show local people, geography, and crops. We are all more receptive if we see ourselves reflected in another person’s story. (i.e. Cowboy hats in Montana are completely different than cowboy hats in New Mexico.)Avoid messages that seem like they originate from outside a community – authenticity is key.
Tap trusted messengers from within communities when possible.
Provide materials in both English and Spanish.
Messaging Guidance
Download these documents containing additional considerations as well as suggested messages and guidelines to complement your current efforts or to start having more authentic and open conversations about mental health and well-being in the rural communities.
  • Messaging Guidance for the Rural Community
    We've worked with mental health experts to develop a guide for meaningful dialogues about mental health in the Rural community, full of helpful messages, approaches, and conversation starters to foster communication and tackle stigmas.
    Rural Community - Messaging Guide
    349 KB


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If you or someone you know needs help, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for 24/7 free and confidential support.