In rural areas, individuals with mental illness have limited, if any, access to evidence-based, effective, and affordable mental health care. Patient education to support self-management of mental illness may not be available or readily accessible. Hence, this pre-engagement proposal aims to develop a mental health patient-centered research community and advisory board for Midland, Michigan and the surrounding rural communities with the long-term goal of improving mental health care, self-management, and outcomes. Both the mental health patient-centered research community and advisory board are new concepts and collaborations for Midland and the surrounding rural communities.
First, the project will focus on identifying mental health and community stakeholders, including but not limited to the following: individuals and families with mental illness; providers of mental health services and primary care; mental health organizations; civic and faith-based organizations; schools and colleges; industry; and local health departments. Next, individual or group meetings will be held with the mental health and community stakeholders to identify 1) mental health resources currently available in these rural communities, 2) unmet behavioral and mental health needs of the rural residents, 3) priority issues, and 4) volunteers interested in serving on the advisory board and/or participating in the mental health patient-centered research community. Finally, an advisory board will be established to create a research agenda for patient-centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research (PCOR/CER) that is meaningful for these patients and rural communities, and has the potential to significantly improve mental health care, self-management, and/or outcomes in these rural communities.