Wellness in Tough Times

participants. In the participation, inclusivity, and resources sub-score sections, the majority of questions had an average mean response of approximately 3 (slightly), indicating there is a perception that their communities could make improvements in these areas to increase readiness for future interventions and programming. Respondents were able to identify at least two resources available to promote mental and physical health-related quality of life in the community. Examples of responses included: Extension, gyms, food pantries, local businesses, churches, public schools, proximity to larger communities, libraries, and senior centers. Interview Results The in-depth interviews revealed six different themes: leadership, community culture, organization efforts/engagement, community participation, community events, and resources available. Specifically, the community culture of not asking for help and not dwelling on the situation impacted individuals’ willingness to seek professional help for mental health issues. Community cultural values of neighbors helping neighbors and the community taking care of one another served as ways that community members informally offered their friendship to improve quality of life. Leadership and organizational efforts also contributed to quality of life. Recommendations Results from the study revealed that while small rural communities are moderately ready to address mental and physical-related quality-of-life issues after a natural disaster, there is more work to be done. Using community values of neighbors helping one another is one way to engage community members in addressing quality-of-life issues; however, education about basic mental health issues needs to be shared with community members to improve quality of life. Schools, businesses, and faith communities are key community resources that must be engaged to improve quality-of-life issues after a major disaster.

From Survey Participants “I think the city teams and most of the leadership in town are willing to talk about it [mental health]. I just don’t know if there’s the resources to make a cohesive plan or really guide people to the right place.” (Community Readiness/Response)

“People are really proud, and they’re private.” (Culture)

“There are some places where they just have a coffee group that sits down and just is willing to listen, you know.” (Social Supports) “I know the church communities do a good job at touching base with their congregations.” (Social Supports) “So, there is not a lot of health- and mental health-related activities here, but I know that the high school tries a lot.” (Social Supports)

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