Child Health in Rural America
Mental, behavioral, or development disorders, such as anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and language problems, often begin in early childhood and can affect life-long health and well-being. Parents of children with mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders in rural communities more often reported having financial difficulties, and rated their own mental health or their partner’s mental health as “fair” or “poor.” They also more often reported living in a neighborhood in poor condition and without amenities such as parks, recreation centers, and libraries. These challenges make it harder for families to give their children the environment and opportunities they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Children with mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders could benefit from better access to mental and behavioral healthcare, programs that support parents and caregivers, and opportunities to learn, play, and socialize. Collaboration among healthcare systems, primary care clinicians, and family support programs may offset the challenges faced by children in rural areas.