Document Type

Research Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


Little is known about the mental health of people with disabilities who live in rural America or the potential benefit of providing peer support services for these individuals. Stress diathesis models of psychiatric disorders suggest the challenges of living with a disability in rural areas may predispose individuals to higher rates of psychiatric disorders (Monroe & Simons, 1991). In addition, rural mental health service providers struggle to meet the needs of rural individuals with primary psychiatric diagnoses, and they may not be trained to assist people with disabilities who have secondary mental health conditions (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003). Peer support provided by Center for Independent Living (CIL) staff may help rural adults with disabilities reduce the impact of psychiatric symptoms. Peer support was pioneered by “the rolling quads” who supported each other in advocating for service and support access. Recognizing the importance and role of peer support in living with a disability, the IL movement formalized peer support as a core service with original funding through the 1978 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of peer support for supporting the needs of rural adults with mobility and


health and wellness, peer support, mental health, screening, rural, disability


© 2014 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Our research is supported by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education.