246565 Mental Health Myths and Misinformation: Trends Among Tennessee's Rural Appalachian Population

Monday, October 31, 2011

Laura Miller, PhD , School of Communication Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Betsy Dortch, MA , School of Communication Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Previous research has indicated that patterns of myths or misinformation about mental health exist in rural Appalachia. Due to the unique cultural and economic climate of the region and the predominately rural and isolated communities, health disparities and misinformation largely affect mental health care and mental health outcomes in Appalachia. Such misinformation includes myths about the meaning of mental health, the causes of mental health problems, how to get help, and appropriate treatments options. In fact, research suggests that people living in Appalachia have unique perceptions about mental health and the general health care system. More research needs to address the unique mental health challenges in Appalachia and work to improve care and education of individuals in these communities. The proposed study specifically seeks to address health care providers' perceptions of mental health myths among their Appalachian patients. This research is designed to gather information about the mental health myths that permeate rural Appalachian regions and to provide groundwork for educational reform in the area of mental health. Open-ended surveys will be distributed among doctors, nurses, and social workers and grounded theory methodologies will be utilized to analyze the data. These data will yield new insight into the health-related perceptions of individuals in Appalachia and will have implications for practitioners seeking to improve education, information, and treatment of mental health patients in underserved regions.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the unique communicative experiences and information challenges of health care providers and mental health patients in the Appalachian region of the United States. 2. Identify the myths and misinformation about mental health in rural, East Tennessee. 3. Design a plan for improving care, information dissemination, and overall health outcomes for mental health patients in this geographic area.

Keywords: Mental Illness, Rural Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor and have a PhD in health communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.