Celebrate National Rural Health Day on November 16, 2023!

November 16 is National Rural Health Day (NRHD), an annual celebration of rural communities as incredible places to live and work, known for their resilience, ingenuity, and strong sense of community. Established in 2011 by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), NRHD is also a time to recognize the dedication of the individuals and organizations who support the health and well-being of the nearly 61 million people living in rural communities, including healthcare providers, State Offices of Rural Health, and other rural-focused organizations.

People living in rural America face unique and significant health challenges. Rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than those living in urban areas.1  Also, rural communities tend to have older citizens who are sicker than their urban counterparts.2

Problematic substance use is also a critical public health issue in rural areas, particularly, opioid use disorder (OUD). In a recent analysis, 4 in 10 of those living in rural areas (42%) report they or a family member have experienced opioid addiction compared to smaller numbers of those living in suburban (30%) or urban (23%) areas.3  These discouraging health outcomes, coupled with the challenges rural citizens face in obtaining healthcare, highlight the difficulties health professionals and related organizations face as they work toward improving the health of those living in these areas.

  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). About rural health. https://www.cdc.gov/ruralhealth/about.html
  • 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). About rural health. https://www.cdc.gov/ruralhealth/about.html
  • 3Kaiser Family Foundation. (2023). KFF tracking poll July 2023: Substance use crisis and accessing treatment. https://www.kff.org/other/poll-finding/kff-tracking-poll-july-2023-substance-use-crisis-and-accessing-treatment/

Taking Action to Address Problematic Substance Use in Rural Communities

Despite these challenges, there are many initiatives worth celebrating that are demonstrating success in supporting the health of rural communities. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) is a multi-year initiative aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality of substance use disorder (SUD), including OUD, in high-risk rural communities. JBS’s RCORP-TA (Technical Assistance) cooperative agreement with HRSA supports grantees who are implementing and sustaining innovative prevention, treatment, and recovery services to address the opioid epidemic in rural communities. RCORP-TA offers trainings, learning collaboratives, webinars, guidance documents, as well as additional forms of TA.  Check out RCORP-TA at https://www.rcorp-ta.org/ or on social media (Facebook, X, Instagram).

Learn more about National Rural Health Day

Visit powerofrural.org to learn more about ways to celebrate rural communities on NRHD. In addition to information about rural health issues, the website includes a promotional toolkit with downloadable tools such as logos, social media graphics, templates, and activity sheets for kids.

Together we can do more to support these communities, highlight the important efforts of those already hard at work, and celebrate the Power of Rural!