Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

Location: Rural, Urban, Suburban

These resources explore issues of diversity across different environmental settings.


Doherty, G. W. (2011). Crisis in the American heartland—Disasters and mental health in rural environments. Ann Arbor, MI: Loving Healing Press.

Written for a broad audience of planners, health and mental health professionals, this book describes the  challenges and hazards of rural life and how to deal with these stressors.

Lambert, W. E. & Taylor, D. M. (1990). Coping with cultural and racial diversity in urban America. New York: Praeger Publishers.

The authors investigate American attitudes toward diversity.

Phillon, J., He, M. F., & Connelly, F. M. (2005). Narrative and experience in multicultural education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

The authors explore the educational experiences of educators across a range of ethnic groups and geographic locations.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Blass, T. (2005). The urban psychology of Stanley Milgram. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 14, 12-22. 

Milgram is most often noted for his work on obedience, however a large portion of his career was dedicated to understanding city life.  This article traces the history of that research and chronicles the most important findings.

D’Augelli, A. R., & Hart, M. M. (1987). Gay women, men, and families in rural settings: Toward the development of helping communities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 79–93.

The authors discuss the challenges of gay individuals who live in rural communities.

Diemer, M. A., & Blustein, D. L. (2006). Critical consciousness and career development among urban youth. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68(2), 220-232.

This study examines the impact of critical consciousness, or the ability to see and work to overcome social and political barriers, on predicting career development in high school students in urban areas.  Results suggest that greater levels of critical consciousness are related to more progress in career development.   

Farahmand, F. K., Grant, K. E., Polo, A. J., & Duffy, S. N. (2011). Schoolbased mental health and behavioral programs for lowincome, urban youth: A systematic and metaanalytic review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 18(4), 372-390. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.2011.01265.x

This meta-analytic review of school-based mental health and behavioral programs for low-income, urban youth details the components of programs that determine their effectiveness.  Overall, programs that targeted internalizing problems delivered to all youth were more successful than those that targeted externalizing problems and were delivered only to youth with existing problems. Explanations for these findings are presented and deal with characteristics of low-income, urban schools and nonschool environments.

Fouad, N. A. (2006). Multicultural guidelines: Implementation in an urban counseling psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37, 6–13.

The author discusses a culture-centered approach in an urban counseling psychology program.

Gone, J. P. (2003). American-Indian mental health service delivery: Persistent challenges and future prospects. In J. S. Mio & G. Y. Iwamasa (Eds.), Culturally diverse mental health: The challenges of research and resistance (pp. 211–229). New York: Brunner-Routledge.

The author describes the challenges of mental health issues of Native Americans and the need to have new models of treatment for this group.

Hayslip, B., Maiden, R. J., Thomison, N. L., Temple, J. R. (2010). Mental health attitudes among rural and urban older adults. Clinical Gerontologist: The Journal of Aging and Mental Health, 33(4), 316-331.

This study explored the role of personality (FFM) and environment ( rural and urban) on older adults’ attitudes toward mental health and mental health services. Those in urban areas expressed more positive attitudes about mental health services than those in rural areas, even when health status was controlled for. In both groups, those who had sought mental health care held more positive views than those who had not. NEO Neuroticism and Openness to Experience impacted mental health attitudes and help-seeking differentially among rural and urban older adults.

Heflinger, C. A., & Christens, B. (2006). Rural behavioral health services for children and adolescents: An ecological and community psychology analysis. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(4), 379-400.

This article recognizes an historic lack of and increasing need for information on rural behavioral health care.  To this end, the authors review the relevant literature on this issue especially as it relates to children.  The authors categorize current systems, provide strategies for improvement, and look to the future in research and practice.

Hirsch, J.K. (2006). A review of the literature on rural suicide: Risk and protective factors, incidence, and prevention. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 27, 189-199.

This article examines the relevant literature on suicide in rural areas and how it differs from urban suicide. Specific prevention and intervention strategies for rural communities are discussed.

Kelly, B. J., Lewin, T. J., Stain, H. J.,; Coleman, C.,Fitzgerald, M., et al. (2011). Determinants of mental health and well-being within rural and remote communities. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46(12), 1331-1342.

Survey data from 2,639 adults in non-metropolitan regions of NSW, Australia were analyzed to investigate the impact of demographic/dispositional factors, recent events and social support, individual exposure to rural adversity, and district/neighborhood level characteristics on a composite measure of well-being.  Dispositional factors (trait neuroticism, marital status), recent adverse events and indices of social support were predictors of well-being, whereas district-level variables (drought severity, regional socioeconomic categorization, population change), were not.  Implications are discussed for interventions to promote well-being. 

Kennedy, A. C. (2007). Homelessness, violence exposure, and school participation among urban adolescent mothers. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(5), 639-654.

This study examines the relationship between homelessness, exposure to violence, and parental participation and support in school.  Results suggest that participants who have been homeless are more likely to be exposed to violence, and less likely to participate and provide support to children in schools.  

Kirchner, J. E., Farmer, M. S., Shue, V. M., Blevins, D., & Sullivan, G. (2011). Partnering with communities to address the mental health needs of rural veterans. The Journal of Rural Health, 27(4), 416-424.  

This article describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of a Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center‐based program designed to improve mental health care for veterans returning to rural areas. The primary strategy involved reaching out to community stakeholders likely to interact with veterans returning from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). These included clergy, postsecondary educators, and criminal justice personnel.  Initial evaluations support the effectiveness of this program.

Kliewer, W. (2006). Violence exposure and cortisol responses in urban youth. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine,13, 109-120.

This study examines the cortisol responses associated with exposure to violent content and situations.  Implications and future research are discussed.

Lin, D., Li, X., Wang, B., Hong, Y., Fang, X., Qin, X., & Stanton, B. (2011). Discrimination, perceived social inequity, and mental health among rural-to-urban migrants in China. Community Mental Health Journal, 47(2), 171-180. doi:10.1007/s10597-009-9278-4

This study investigated the impact of discriminatory experiences and perceived social inequity on the  mental health status of 1,006 rural-to-urban migrants in 2004–2005 in Beijing, China. Both discrimination and social inequity were strongly associated with mental health problems. The authors discuss the need to reduce discrimination against migrants and to eliminate barriers to economic and psychological well-being.

Luthar, S. S., & Goldstein, A. S. (2008). Substance use and related behaviors among suburban late adolescents: The importance of perceived parent containment. Development and Psychopathology, 20(02), 591-614.

This study examined the higher rates of recreational drug use in wealthy suburban neighborhoods.  Results suggested an increased level of drug use in 17 year-olds, especially girls, as compared to the national levels.  Suggestions for further study as well as practical application are discussed.  

Morthland, M., & Scogin, F. (2011). Mental health concerns for caregivers in rural communities. In R. C. Talley, K. Chwalisz & K. C. Buckwalter (Eds.), Rural caregiving in the United States: Research, practice, policy (pp. 85-102). New York, NY: Springer.  doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-0302-9_6

This chapter addresses the mental health issues of rural caregivers across the life span in an effort to remedy to near exclusive focus on the elderly in the literature on rural caregivers.  Research, practices, education, and policy and advocacy concerns are presented.

Rice, T. W., & Steele, B. (2001). White ethnic diversity and community attachment in small Iowa towns. Social Science Quarterly, 82, 397–407.

Their research suggests that small towns with high levels of White ethnic diversity are related to low levels of community attachment.

Sharkey, J. R., Johnson, C. M., & Dean, W. R.(2011). Relationship of household food insecurity to health-related quality of life in a large sample of rural and urban women.  Women & Health, 51(5), 442-460.

The authors investigated the relationship between household food insecurity and physical and mental health among 1,367 rural and urban women in Texas.   Having less than 12 years of education, not being employed full-time, and being household food insecure were significantly associated with poor health outcomes. Household food insecurity had a greater impact on the general health of rural than urban women.

Takooshian, H. (2005). Urban psychology: Its history and current status. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 14, 3-11.

This article examines the history of urban psychology and suggests directions for future research.

Wendel, M. L., Brossart, D. F., Elliott, T. R., McCord, C., & Diaz, M. A. (2011). Use of technology to increase access to mental health services in a rural Texas community. Family & Community Health: The Journal of Health Promotion & Maintenance, 34(2), 134-140.

This article describes a “telehealth” counseling model, implemented in a rural Texas community, and discusses lessons learned in the process and recommendations for implementation.

Wood, J.A.V., Miller, T.W., and Hargrove, D.S. (2005). Clinical supervision in rural settings: A telehealth model. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 173-179.

It is often difficult for clinical interns to receive necessary supervision when placed in rural settings.  This article suggests the use of telecommunication to augment or replace traditional face to face supervision.  The authors review the relevant literature on telesupervision including the history, benefits, and problems.

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