Rural Mental Health: Understanding the Barriers and Challenges Impacting Access To and Provision Of Services For Rural Communities

This presentation targets audience members including consumers, providers and advocates who support, treat and advocate for rural community mental health wellness. Mary will focus on stigma and the impact of it has on access to care and personal treatment decisions. Further, she will highlight what mental health looks like in American today and provide an in-depth focus on rural communities and farmers in particular. The main part of Mary’s presentation will be on the “4 A’s” related to rural mental health including accessibility, affordability, availability and acceptability. Her presentation (which will include several videos) will assist in understanding how we can engage in “Making a Commitment to Better Lives” in our rural communities.

Mary E. Garrison Bio:

Professor of Social Work Mary E. Garrison is a licensed clinical social worker and certified as a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Mary teaches courses at Millikin University focusing as clinical practice, ethics, poverty, mental health, and diversity. Mary has had extensive practice experience in the social work field, with over 25 years of public and private practice in mental health services, policy and advocacy. Mary has been active in providing continuing education opportunities for colleagues through professional workshops, presentations, and trainings both domestically and internationally.

Mary serves as an advisor to Big Blue Backpacks and is an advisor to the Millikin University student organization Human Service Connection. Mary serves as a clinical supervisor, a consultant to multiple community entities, is a Governing Board Member of the Macon County Continuum of Care and serves as the PIT Homeless Count Coordinator for Macon County. Mary is currently a NASW Illinois Board Delegate, a board member for Kennedy Forum Illinois, the Good Samaritan Inn, and Youth Advocate. Mary engages in research in the areas of poverty, homelessness and mental health. Mary co-authored a book titled: “Your Playbook for Beating Depression: Essential Strategies for Managing and Living with Depression.” Mary advocates passionately and fights for social justice for individuals facing discrimination and marginalization. Mary is a past recipient of the NASW Illinois Social Worker of the Year Award, a two-time recipient of the Cesar Chavez Social Justice Award and the first recipient of the Macon County Continuum of Care Advocate of the Year Award.