Program of Excellence in Rural Mental Health and Substance Abuse


To improve the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services in rural, underserved communities

Anticipated Impact: 

Improved management of substance abuse and mental illness in rural areas through testing and implementation of appropriate evidence-based treatments


The use of evidence-based treatments (EBTs), clinical guidelines that rely on what researchers have found to be effective treatment, has grown in all areas of health care in an effort to reduce errors and improve health. In the field of mental health, most EBTs have been developed for use in urban areas and may not be easily transferable to rural environments. Out of 39 Washington State counties, 23 are classified as rural with more than one million residents.

Applying a translational research approach, the investigators' first priority is to develop, modify, and implement EBTs for substance abuse and mental illness for use in Washington's rural areas. The team's long-term priority is to develop a self-sustaining program that is supported by public and private sector funds to conduct high-quality research for translation into effective treatment protocols. Through the use, refinement, and delivery of EBTs, this group of clinician-researchers seeks to improve the physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of drug and mental health disorders. If successful, the program will provide savings to Washington in the medical and social costs of managing these disorders. Washington State realizes about four dollars in benefits for every dollar spent for treatment costs related to delivering treatments for alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders.

See also:

Drug Abuse in Rural Areas

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
John Roll
Grantee Organization:
Washington State University
Grant Title:
Program of Excellence in Rural Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment
Grant Cohort and Year:
2008 Innovative Programs to Advance Health Research (02)
Grant Period:
08/16/2009 - 08/15/2014 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Collaborating Organizations:
Group Health Center for Health Studies, Swedish Medical Center, University of Washington, Washington Department of Social and Health Services
This funding has allowed us to support the acquisition of multiple millions of dollars of new funding for related research and evaluation efforts. It has allowed us to create new jobs in both faculty and staff lines. It has facilitated the conversation regarding disparities in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse concerns that exists between rural and urban areas. Finally, it has begun to provide health care providers with new ways to deal with the sticky interface between chronic pain treatment, mental health and prescription opiate abuse.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact
Mount Vernon
Port Townsend
White Salmon
Cle Elum
Moses Lake
Orcas Island

Legislative Districts:
, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 22, 24, 26, 34, 36, 37, 40, 42, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Drug Abuse in Rural Areas

Feb 6, 2015
Washington State Magazine