National Center for Rural Mental Health | St. Louis Public Radio

National Center for Rural Mental Health

It’s the middle of summer but Harrisburg Middle School is a hive of activity. Between summer school classes and renovations, it’s a little chaotic for counselor Brett Rawlings, who just wrapped up his first year at the school.

Harrisburg is a town of fewer than 300 people, midway between St. Louis and Kansas City. But the school also serves the surrounding area, which is primarily farmland. As the K-8 counselor, Rawlings is responsible for some 400 students, and he deals with a range of issues.


The University of Missouri will be establishing a National Center for Rural Mental Health, the university announced today. The center will be funded by a $10 million grant from the US Department of Education.

The center will benefit rural schools in Missouri, Virginia and Montana. Staff and researchers hope to help at least 110 rural schools across those states by creating a database of information and provide a training system to support the mental health needs of their students.

Wendy Reinke is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the lead investigator on the grant. She says one important step is applying gathered information and applying it to rural schools.

“These rural schools are unique in so many ways and I think figuring out sort of what we know works now in some of our suburban school districts and how we can map them, onto the challenges faced by rural schools, that have unique circumstances, is an important next step.”