Feature

Tamara DeHay, PhD, spends her days working to increase rural residents' access to mental health services. She is a senior project director at the Mental Health Program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), a 15-state intergovernmental organization that aims to increase access to higher education and other services throughout the Western United States, much of which is rural.

In the past several years, the Mental Health Program has conducted research on suicide prevention in rural areas, patterns of psychotropic medicine prescription in rural versus urban areas, and much more. These days, DeHay is leading an effort to add doctoral psychology internship opportunities in the states WICHE serves.

Now, DeHay and her colleague Mimi McFaul, PsyD, director of the Mental Health Program and WICHE's Center for Rural Mental Health Research, want to bring that same breadth of work to the Journal of Rural Mental Health. McFaul and DeHay have served as the journal's co-editors since 2010, with McFaul in the role of Managing Editor. APA acquired the publication last year from the National Association for Rural Mental Health.

"[We hope] the switch to APA will increase our readership and put the journal in the hands of more researchers who can contribute to the field," DeHay says.

The journal has always been open to publishing a wide variety of papers, including case studies, meta-analyses and review articles, according to the editors, and to publishing research encompassing many different types of rural communities, from Appalachia to the Mountain West. But in the past the journal's breadth has been limited by the fact that most of its readers and contributors were members of the National Association for Rural Mental Health, a smaller organization than APA. DeHay says that she hopes expanding the journal's readership will naturally increase the range of article submissions as well.

"NARMH is a really great organization that does a lot of great work and is able to create resources for rural mental health providers," she says. "I think that if we can expand not only the journal's readership, but also NARMH's membership, by getting the word out there, that would be a huge benefit."

McFaul wants to make sure that the journal retains its multidisciplinary nature as it moves to APA. "It's never been tied to psychology before," she says. She and DeHay plan to continue to encourage submissions from all mental health practitioners and researchers.

Hot topics include integrated care, which is particularly useful in small communities where providers know one another and work well across disciplines; telehealth, which can bring services to rural areas where mental health professionals are in short supply; and services for military veterans, many of whom are returning to rural areas after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Readers are particularly interested in research on adapting evidenced-based treatment models to rural audiences, DeHay says.

"Rural areas are not always able to demonstrate pure fidelity to a treatment model that was developed in urban areas, and those models are not always generalizable to rural populations," she says. "Rural providers are experts at coming up with creative solutions, partnering and determining where modifications can be made without negatively impacting clinical outcomes."

To submit manuscripts for the journal, go to Journal of Rural Mental Health.