An Overview of Mental Health in Bloomington, Indiana
The city of Bloomington is one of the most populous in the state of Indiana, home to 85,071 persons, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2017. It ranks fourth-highest in terms of population when factoring out the Indianapolis metro region, and seventh-highest overall. Many of those who live there are employed by the city’s numerous educational institutions, which include Indiana University Bloomington, Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Kelly School of Business.
Though the unemployment rate is only marginally higher when compared to state and nationwide figures, Bloomington faces a distinct challenge with regard to income sufficiency. The 2017 Census estimated that over 37% of individuals lived below the poverty threshold, a number that far exceeds both the 12.3% national and 13.5% statewide estimates. This statistic brings to mind several related issues, such as food insecurity, which like poverty, is often recognized as a prevailing factor in the development of adverse mental health conditions.
The Effects of Poverty in Bloomington
There is growing awareness of the apparent relationship between lower rates of income and lower levels of happiness, or feelings of general satisfaction in one’s life. Evidence can be found in many fashions and in many places, such as Gallup poll data that was analyzed by the Brookings Institution in 2013. Findings indicated that individuals generally reported being happier and more satisfied with their lives in higher-income countries throughout the world.
When zooming in to focus on individuals living in the United States, response typically seemed to echo these findings. Note the following:
- Families whose annual income was under $20k reported the highest rates of unhappiness and dissatisfaction (36% and 43% respectively).
- Unhappiness and dissatisfaction appeared to drop significantly for those whose household incomes landed between $20k and $40k annually (9% and 8% respectively).
- Unhappy or dissatisfied persons were almost nonexistent when surveying those with $100k-plus yearly income levels, according to those polled.
There is an adage that money can’t buy happiness, which can often apply in many situations; many lower-income families did provide more moderate responses to the cited Gallup survey. However, the data clearly does reflect that financial needs can directly influence one’s mental and/or emotional state, making it more difficult to seek out necessities like healthy food, comfortable housing, health care and higher education.
How Food Insecurity Influences Mental Health
Poverty is a distinct problem for many Bloomington residents, but financial instability can also contribute to many other undesirable situations. As a state, Indiana faces a notably high percentage of individuals who are both food insecure and ineligible for government assistance.
Food insecurity is defined as living without access to reliable, sufficient amounts of healthy sustenance. A study performed by Elsevier Health Sciences suggests that this condition is capable of producing numerous negative effects on mental health, possibly contributing to ailments such as depression and anxiety.
Monroe is one of the state’s most imperiled counties in this regard, with over 18% of individuals thought to be at risk, per 2016 Feeding America statistics. This translates to more than 25,000 people whose daily lives and mental states are likely impacted by a lack of available food, or fear of impending unavailability.
Mental Health Resources in Bloomington, Indiana
Regardless of the root causes, dealing with depression and mental health issues often requires outside assistance. Seeking out this type of help can be the most difficult step in overcoming one’s personal challenges, but there are many resources available to Bloomington residents worthy of consideration:
- Indiana University Health provides a wide range of services, including mental and behavioral health-related care.
- Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County is a clinic located in Bloomington that offers cost-free assistance to those who qualify, notably those living far below the poverty line and without health coverage.
- Bloomington Meadows Hospital offers services focused both on adults as well as teens and children, including substance abuse and detox care.
These are just three examples, but they can serve as helpful starting points for those struggling with mental health challenges. For assistance outside of the Bloomington area, or if you are seeking a more detailed overview of individual therapists in your city, please refer to the E-Counseling directory. It is a searchable resource that simplifies the process of connecting with qualified, sympathetic professionals in your area.