An Overview of Mental Health in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
With a livability rating of 72, Bethlehem is not an entirely bad place to live. It offers easy access to amenities to its 75,910 residents, experiences below average crime and boasts a perfectly average cost of living. The median household income in this city is $49,349, which is below the national median household income of $55,322, and far below the counties’ in which is rests. It is also significantly below the state median. The average property value is $168,900, which is almost a full percent decline from previous years. The homeownership rate hovers right around 50 percent.
In such a completely average town – at least based on what the numbers say – one might think that Bethlehem’s mental illness rates would be average as well. This is not the case. Bethlehem and Pennsylvania as a whole is dealing with the same mental health crisis with which the rest of the U.S. is coping. This post explores possible reasons why.
Factors That Affect State of Emotional Health in Bethlehem
Though the state of one’s mental wellbeing is sometimes genetic, environmental factors often play a role in how one feels and behaves on a daily basis. Some factors that may affect the emotional health of Bethlehem residents are as follows:
- Weather: Weather is a known trigger for poor mental health. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, extreme weather such as that Pennsylvania is subject to can cause increased levels of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cold and dreary weather has been known to cause depression in several populations. Bethlehem eared a D+ for weather.
- Education: The average test scores in Bethlehem were 47 percent, which is lower than both the state and national averages. Just 26.6 percent of residents have earned a bachelor’s degree, and 3.5 percent have earned a doctorate. Lack of education often leads to lack of employment opportunities, which leads to poverty. Poverty is directly associated with poor mental health.
- Poverty: The poverty rate in Bethlehem is 17 percent, which is greater than both the national and the state’s rates. Income per capita is just $25,432, which is significantly lower than Pennsylvania’s $30,137. Again, there is a direct link between poverty and mental illness.
- Drug Use: The opioid overdose death rate in Pennsylvania is 18.5 per 100,000. Though by no means the worst rate in the nation, it is still fairly high, especially compared with rates on the west coast. Pennsylvania also borders West Virginia and Ohio, which have the first and third most number of opioid deaths in the nation, respectively. Drug use causes addiction, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, job loss, paranoia and countless other mental health issues.
- HIV Diagnoses: The county in which Bethlehem sits reported 143.8 HIV diagnoses per 100,000 individuals in 2017. This type of diagnosis can cause depression, anxiety, fear and feelings of isolation.
- Excessive Drinking: The excessive drinking rate in Northhamptom is 18.1 percent. Excessive drinking can lead to anxiety, obesity, liver disease, job loss and even death.
The state of mental health in Pennsylvania is not just speculation. Though Pennsylvania’s youth are not as depressed or suicidal as the youth on a national scale, approximately 29 percent still reported having felt depressed every day for two or more weeks within a year-span. 12 percent had depressive episodes, and 15 percent have considered suicide. Seven percent actually attempted. Though the statistics for adult mental health remain undisclosed, it is estimated that one in five adults in the U.S. live with some kind of mental disorder. Approximately one in 25 live with severe mental illness. In a year-span, approximately 396,000 PA adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
Availability of Mental Health Care
Pennsylvania ranks number nine in terms of availability of mental health care. Because it ranks so well, nearly half of all individuals who live with a mental disorder sought treatment from 2010 to 2014. This is a far better than the number than most other states boast. However, that does not mean that Pennsylvania’s mental health concerns are minimal.
As the numbers indicate, there is still a long way to go to recovery, especially if residents hope to preserve the emotional wellbeing of the state’s youth. E-Counseling has joined the movement to make mental health care more easily accessible to all. If you’re in need of psychiatric help, or if you know of someone who is, use E-Counseling’s directory to find a compassionate therapist in the Bethlehem area.