The United States is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis that is even more pronounced in rural communities. Teachers may be driven away from the profession if they feel inadequately trained or under-supported to address students’ mental health needs. As such, an important teacher retention strategy is to ensure schools have enough mental health professionals. The goal of this study was to explore three different yet complementary strategies to recruit and retain a robust rural school mental health workforce: a rural immersion program for graduate students enrolled in counseling and school psychology programs, a virtual professional development series for existing rural school mental health professionals, and a workforce hiring strategy. Each strategy showed promise: six out of seven students stated they were more inclined to work in a rural setting as a result of the immersion, self-efficacy and job satisfaction significantly increased for rural school mental health professionals participating in the virtual professional development, and important recruitment strategies were identified by rural school leaders. While there is reason for optimism when it comes to creating a robust rural school mental health workforce, funds are urgently needed to make these strategies available to rural communities across the country.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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