An Overview of Mental Health in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina is located in Buncombe County and is the largest city in the western portion of the state. The population of this city is 91,916 with significant growth in the metropolitan area.
The economy in the area is supported by healthcare, entertainment and food service industries and employs nearly 45,000 people. However, available jobs seem to be decreasing in the area and leading to a reduction in the median household income rate, which is $43,848. This is much lower than the median income for the country, which sits at $59,039. While Asheville’s unemployment rate is relatively low at 2.9 percent, especially when compared to the rate of four percent for the entire country, there are still many people living below the poverty line and who have no access to mental health services to treat problems such as anxiety, addiction, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Mental Health Challenges in Asheville
The Citizen Times asserts that one of the greatest challenges to mental health wellness in Asheville is suicide among veterans, which has increased greatly over the last few years. The same report notes that 37 per 100,000 Asheville veterans ended their own lives in 2014 versus the national average of 17 per 100,000 individuals. Other mental health issues in the city may be triggered by other factors that include:
- Disproportionate ethnic populations, with Caucasians dominating the area at 77 percent;
- A poverty rate of 16.2 percent, which is three times the rate of the national average;
- A misunderstanding or misdiagnosis of mental health disorders;
- A lack of health insurance for treating anxiety, depression and other disorders;
- Inequality in wage earnings for men vs. women in nearly every industry in the area;
- Sexual trauma among female veterans.
There is hope for Asheville’s mentally ill, however. For example, the CooperRiis Healing Community, a comprehensive mental health recovery center that covers four acres, is available for patients over the age of 18. This facility is unique in that it offers an approach that blends holistic, medical and work-focused programs that are designed to treat an array of mental health issues. Patients work together to understand that healing does not happen without help and cooperation.
In 2016, the UNC School of Medicine announced budget increases designed to expand health care to rural areas of North Carolina, including Asheville. Improvements cited included repairing a shortage of physicians in the area; however, it is unknown if these improvements include mental health treatment or if they will reduce the challenges facing the city’s residents.
The Challenges of Obtaining a Therapist in Asheville
Asheville’s metropolitan residents typically have better access to mental health services than those that live in city’s rural areas. Public transport may not be available there, and people with disabilities, such as combat veterans, might it find it difficult to get to clinics or other facilities without help.
Another challenge in this area is that many of the area’s male population may not be willing to admit they have a mental illness. According to Psychology Today, 75 percent of suicide victims in America are men and that this is connected with factors such as job loss, sexuality issues, feelings of isolation and trauma connected with unresolved childhood trauma.
While it is unknown how many men in Asheville suffer from these issues specifically, suicide in men in North Carolina is 22.5 per 100,000 people, which is higher than the national average of 21.9. These numbers seem to indicate that men with mental illnesses either do not seek help or are not aware they are suffering until the symptoms become severe enough for them to commit suicide.
Accessing Mental Health Care in Asheville
Asheville has a variety of treatment centers for men and women suffering from addiction issues that spring from mental illness. From Legacy Freedom Treatment Centers to Mountain Health Solutions, which specializes in drug addiction treatment, there are many options. It is important to remember, however, that not all facilities accept the same types of insurance and that some may sliding-scale payments for those with low income.
If you are unsure where to begin when it comes to finding a therapist, E-Counseling can help. This directory offers comprehensive information about local mental health care professionals in your area. You can browse by state, city and find out other information about how to get help, whether you are in crisis or simply want to begin your journey to mental wellness.