In a new story from The Seattle Times, reporter Hannah Furfaro investigates the lack of access to mental health in Washington state’s more rural areas, and what locals are doing to bridge the gap for themselves and their loved ones.

From the story: “In many places in Washington, access to mental health care is lacking: About 37% of Washingtonians live in an area with a shortage of mental health providers, federal data from June suggests. And only 12% of residents live in an area where they could expect their mental health needs to be met. 

But finding a mental health provider, specialty care or an inpatient bed is particularly hard if you live in a less-populated corner of the state.

The path to care is broken for many such people. Some receive mental health services through their primary care doctor. But seeing a psychiatrist can mean driving miles and miles to a neighboring town or another county altogether.”

With ER staff shortages and the fear of social stigma preventing locals from reaching out to what can be the only psychiatrist in town, rural Washington is stuck in a cycle of inadequate mental health care access. While access is improving in some areas, long car rides and wait times are still the norm for those who seek treatment outside the major cities.

To read the rest of the story in the Times, click here.