WETA and Well Beings Launch Series of Documentary Shorts Calling Attention to the Rural Health Crisis in America

Directed by Award-Winning Filmmaker Elizabeth Arledge, Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America Gives Glimpse into the Challenges in Health and Mental Health Care Needs of Americans in Rural and Frontier Regions

Series Part of Public Media Well Beings Campaign, a Storytelling Platform that Includes Unique Content and Best Practices to De-Stigmatize Conversations about Health Care

Digital-First Series, made possible by support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will Become Part of an Upcoming Feature Documentary Series Critical Condition: Health Care in Rural America (working title)

Washington, D.C., January 10, 2022 WETA and Well Beings, a multiplatform health campaign created by the D.C.-based public media station, launched a new two-part digital-first documentary short series, Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America. The series spotlights real, powerful stories to raise awareness about mental and other health care needs for Americans living in remote and rural areas.

To raise awareness, educate, reduce stigma, and change the national conversation, Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America shares a portrait of the disparities in rural and frontier regions of the United States in care and mental health. From lack of services to isolation and ethnic inequities, the series presents facts and figures in two poignant episodes and two short clips by award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Arledge to shine a light on this crisis. One story addresses maternal health among Black families in rural Georgia, where pregnant Black women are at higher risk for physical and mental health issues. It follows local obstetrician Dr. Joy Baker and new mother Jorelle Godwin, as Jorelle opens up about her personal mental health struggles during pregnancy and post-partum. Another story shows the effects of substance abuse and generational trauma through the lived experience of Levi Montoya, a young Hispanic man living in rural New Mexico. Levi shares his transformational journey, and addresses better parenting and being there for himself and his loved ones.

Compared to urban and suburban regions of the country, residents of rural America tend to be older, poorer, sicker, and less likely to be insured. Isolation, lack of services, fewer care providers, higher rates of mental health concerns, addiction, suicide and overall disparities across the spectrum contribute to a rural health crisis in America among individuals of all ages. According to research conducted in 2020, rural Americans have higher depression and suicide rates, but are less likely to access mental health care services. For more information, Well Beings has compiled these stark facts and figures around mental health in rural America on WellBeings.org.

“Well Beings is proud to partner with Elizabeth Arledge and Gurney Street Films on Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America, bringing authentic voices of lived experiences in rural America through this short film series that is calling attention to individuals, families and communities in dire need of mental health support and services,” said Tom Chiodo, a spokesperson for Well Beings. “These are impactful stories of courage and resilience that need to be shared, and through them, we are committed to raise awareness, educate, reduce stigma and change the national conversation around rural health and wellbeing.”

“NAMI is delighted to be the leading sponsor of Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America, bringing visibility to the impact on rural communities of the disparities in access to quality health care and mental health care,” said Annette Gantt, NAMI’s Chief Field Relations Officer. “Over two-thirds of NAMI State and Affiliate organizations serve individuals and families in rural and remote communities.  No one’s location, no one’s background — whether they’re disadvantaged, people of color or LGTBQTIA+ — and no one’s gender or age should prevent access to the support and care they need. There is great change on the horizon that inspires my belief and faith that, in time, these powerful stories will change the narrative.”

Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America is produced and directed by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary producer, director and broadcast journalist, Elizabeth Arledge, who has more than 25 years of experience in developing character-driven stories for PBS, network and cable television, including The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s for PBS, which won the national Primetime Emmy® for Outstanding Nonfiction Special, and Out of Control: AIDS in Black America, for ABC News, which won the George Foster Peabody Award.  Remote Chance is a production of Gurney Street Films and WETA Washington, D.C., the leading PBS station in our nation’s capital, which produces and presents news and public affairs programs such as PBS NewsHour and Washington Week; more than three decades of documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns and Florentine Films; many seasons of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; and many performance specials from Washington, D.C.

To watch the series, please visit WellBeings.org/remotechance. The public can continue to join the conversation on health by using #WellBeings, visiting WellBeings.org, or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Remote Chance: Rural Health Care in America is made possible by support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  The supporters of Well Beings’ first featured project, the Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project, which founded the Well Beings digital platform, are Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, Liberty Mutual Insurance, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, One Mind, Movember, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dana Foundation, Dauten Family Foundation, The Hersh Foundation, Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission, John & Frances Von Schlegell, Sutter Health, Robina Riccitiello, and Jackson Family Enterprises. The project sponsors and partners are leveraging their organizational resources, chapters and affiliates at the local and national levels to support Well Beings and have created a video, available to view here.  WETA also assembled a wide range of partners to collaborate on the Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project, both for digital content and the Well Beings Tour, a series of community-based outreach events hosted by local public media stations across the country to demystify and normalize mental health matters. In addition to local public media stations, project partners include Call To Mind at American Public Media, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, Forbes, People, Mental Health America, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, The Steve Fund, and The Jed Foundation.


Well Beings is a multiplatform, multi-year campaign from public media that launched in July 2020 to address the critical health needs in America through original broadcast and digital content, engagement campaigns, and impactful local events. Well Beings works to demystify and destigmatize health concerns through storytelling. The campaign began with the Youth Mental Health Project, engaging youth voices to create a national conversation, raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and encourage compassion. Other featured Well Beings projects address rural health care, survival of childhood cancer, caregiving and more, with projects planned through at least 2028. Well Beings was created by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public media station in the nation’s capital, and brings together partners from across the country, including individuals with lived experience of health challenges, families, caregivers, educators, medical and mental health professionals, social service agencies, private foundations, filmmakers, corporations and media sponsors, to create awareness and resources for better health and wellbeing. The public can join the conversation by using #WellBeings, visiting WellBeings.org, or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.


WETA is the leading public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio and digital. WETA Washington, D.C., is the second-largest producing-station for public television in the United States, with news and public affairs programs including PBS NewsHour and Washington Week; films by Ken Burns and Florentine Films such as Muhammad Ali and Hemingway; series and documentaries by Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song; health content from Well Beings, a multiplatform campaign that includes original broadcast and digital content, engagement campaigns, and impactful local events, featuring the documentary Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness; and performance specials including The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, In Performance at the White House and The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is the president and CEO.  More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org. Visit www.facebook.com/wetatvfm on Facebook or follow @WETAtvfm on Twitter.


Lameka V. Lucas, WETA Senior Director of Communications, 703-998-4775, llucas@weta.org

Sydney Cameron, WETA Communications, scameron@weta.org

WellBeings.org is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. The service is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.