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F. Darnell Blocker
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Catreshia C Brundage
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The city of Augusta, Georgia (also known as Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia) is best known for its warm, pleasant climate, a wealth of rich history, and being close to the Savannah River. In fact, the region’s fitting nickname is “the Central Savannah River Area,” or CSRA to the locals. The sprawling city of Augusta is home to around 200,000 people, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. While any area with that many residents may sound impressive, the number of Augusta inhabitants has largely stagnated over the past decade. Is the lack of desire to move to the city indicative of something bad? Why wouldn’t people be moving in droves to this charming, historically-rich city?
Unfortunately, Augusta is suffering from a mental health crisis brought on by a variety of contributing factors. But, the problem isn’t just Augusta’s, but rather the state of Georgia as a whole. Some of the most extreme problems in the community that are negatively impacting the mental health of Augusta’s citizens are crime, poverty, and homelessness. Let’s take a detailed look at Augusta’s mental health situation, dig deeper into the driving forces behind it, and go over how to get in contact with a suitable therapist if you are in need of counseling.
An Overview of Mental Health in Augusta, Georgia
As stated previously, the problem of skyrocketing rates of mental illness is not affecting Augusta alone. Unfortunately, the entire state of Georgia is not looking too good in terms of the prevalence of mental illness amongst its citizens as well as how accessible treatment is for the people suffering. According to a 2017 report commissioned by Mental Health America that focuses on how widespread mental health problems are for adults in the United States, Georgia ranks in the top 15 percent of states regarding the commonness of mental health problems. This high ranking not only means that there are far more people living with mental issues in Georgia than almost any other state in the nation. But, why is this such an issue for Georgia, and Augusta-Richmond County, specifically?
First and foremost, Augusta is suffering from a major crime problem. According to statistics pulled from the FBI, the overall crime rate in the city is more than 105 percent higher than the national average. Crime in the area is actually increasing, unlike many other cities in similar situations. Regrettably, science tells us there is a substantial link between areas with high rates of crime and areas with high rates of mental illness and lack of care. Without a doubt, the exceedingly high amount of crimes people commit in the area is breeding mental illness and influencing the statistics.
Secondly, the city of Augusta is going through a second crisis. The poverty level in Augusta is roughly 70 percent higher than the national average, as per the U.S. Census Bureau. The average income per capita rests at only $20,876 per year, while the rest of the nation’s sits at almost $30,000 per year. With a good chunk of the population living below the federal poverty level, it’s no wonder crime is running rampant in the area. However, high rates of poverty don’t just contribute to higher rates of crime, but also higher rates of mental illness. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, those living below the poverty level are more than two times as likely to suffer from a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that is diagnosable.
In addition to poverty, as you can expect, there are also vast swaths of people without employment. Notably higher than the national average, the unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center.
Homelessness in the area is also running wild. Officials are telling the media that the number of homeless people in the CSRA is out of control, and there simply are not enough shelters available. The overabundance of homeless families in Augusta is causing shelters to fill up quickly, leaving many to live on the streets. The comorbidity of homelessness and mental illness is quite high. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, as of July 2009, upwards of 25 percent of all homeless individuals in America suffer from a severe mental illness. For comparison, only six percent of non-homeless Americans suffer from a severe mental illness.
The Trouble of Finding a Suitable Therapist in Augusta, Georgia
In Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia, not every person with a mental illness receive the treatment they need. In fact, a majority will not. According to Mental Health America, a whopping 56 percent of people in the United States with a mental health condition will receive no form of treatment whatsoever. Augusta is no different. Experts blame the low number of people getting access to care because of a variety of factors. These include lack of insurance, an excess of impoverished people, and stigma.
The amount of people living in Augusta without any form of health insurance is quite high, relative to the rest of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 17.3 percent of adults under the age of 65 lack health insurance. Comparatively, around 8.8 percent of the nation is uninsured. For these people, a lot of the time their only option for getting the necessary treatment they need to get better is not an option because the cost is too high. Without insurance, people must pay for counseling out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, with a good portion of the population living in abject poverty, this is not a feasible decision.
There are some people who choose not to seek out a counselor that can help them because of stigma. They fear the judgment of others because of a false stigma that you are seen as weak if you reach out for help. It’s crucial to acknowledge the inaccuracy of the stigma and the importance of attending therapy sessions.
Mental Health Resources in Augusta, Georgia
Thankfully, there are a good number of institutions in Augusta who focus on mental health with their doors open. Serenity Behavioral Health Systems, for example, is a local institution that offers a bevy of services to those in need of treatment of a mental health problem. They also guarantee a response within 24-hours. East Central Regional Hospital is another renowned facility in the area that services those suffering from mental health issues. They have 1,400 people on staff and are known to be attentive and helpful.
E-Counseling.com’s therapist directory was created to help those in need of mental health assistance via counseling find trusted professionals in your area. Settle for the best experience by using our directory to find a therapist fit just for you.