The State of Mental Health and Care Resources in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Situated on the Mississippi River’s eastern bank, Baton Rouge is the second-largest city and the capital of Louisiana. It boasts a population of 225,374 people according to the 2017 estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau, however the city’s resident count decreased slightly by 1.8% since the 2010 census counts. Baton Rouge is also the parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish.
The median household income of $39,969 in Baton Rouge is lower than both the state and national averages of $45,652 and $55,322, respectively. In addition, more than one- fourth of the Baton Rouge population lives below the poverty line. Residents with low income are usually less likely to seek mental health care due to their inability to pay.
Another factor impacting Americans’ decision to work with mental health specialists is whether they have health insurance coverage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 16.2% of Baton Rouge’s population is not insured. In contrast, only 9.7% of Louisiana’s residents and 10.2% of the entire U.S. population under 65 years have no health insurance.
Mental Health Status of the Baton Rouge Community
According to the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment report published by East Baton Rouge Parish, increasing mental health awareness and resource coordination is one of the top 4 health priorities for the parish as identified by local residents and multiple local government offices.
The Assessment also reports that on average East Baton Rouge residents experience 4 poor mental health days in a month, which is consistent with the statistics for the state of Louisiana as well. Additionally, the CDC’s 500 Cities Project: Local Data for Better Health states that 14.9% of Baton Rouge’s population over 18 years of age reports as having poor mental health at least 14 or more days in a month.
The CDC also reports that 15.7% of the adult population in Baton Rouge engages in binge drinking, 18.8% smokes, 34.4% is obese, and 35.9% does not get enough sleep. While these percentages are consistent with the national averages for the most part, the unhealthy behaviors they represent are often associated with mental disorders, substance abuse problems and most importantly, the absence of medical attention for these conditions.
In addition to the socioeconomic factors such as low income and lack of health insurance mentioned earlier, access to mental health providers in the community is another major reason why people don’t always seek treatment for behavioral and emotional problems. The 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment reports that East Baton Rouge Parish has a ratio of 644 residents to 1 mental health provider. This ratio is higher than the 420:1 average for Louisiana and it indicates that there may not be enough professionals to address the mental health issues in the community.
Mental Health Resources Available to Baton Rouge Residents
Finding the right mental health specialist for yourself or a loved one is not an easy task, especially for individuals with low income or no insurance. Many organizations such as Capital Area Human Services have sliding scale fees for service in order to make their services affordable to the uninsured. CAHS offers programs for adult mental health and addiction, children and adolescent emotional health and substance abuse as well as developmental disabilities.
In addition to these resources, you can find some of Baton Rouge’s top rated mental and behavioral health care providers in our professional directory.