An Overview of Mental Health in Boca Raton, Florida
While Florida is a popular vacation and retirement destination, many of its communities are facing mental health crises like much of the US. The city of Boca Raton is located in Palm Beach County and is considered a part of the Miami metropolitan area. With a pleasant climate and the Atlantic Ocean as its eastern border, there are miles of beautiful beaches to be enjoyed by its 98,000 residents year-round.
Boca Raton has a thriving real estate industry, while other large sectors include healthcare, science and retail. The city’s per capita income is approximately $55,000, with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.
The city’s overall poverty rate of 9.26 percent is relatively low compared to the national rate of approximately 12.3 percent, but statistics show that minorities in Boca Raton are disproportionately affected by poverty compared to the white majority. For example, although the city has a small Native American population, their poverty rate is a tremendous 30 percent. The trend applies to other minority groups, with the poverty rate among Asians being 20 percent, Hispanics almost 18 percent and almost 17 percent in the black population.
Mental Illness in Florida
Poverty is a common risk factor for mental illness, and vice versa. Florida is not alone in dealing with a mental health crisis. Mental Health America published a list ranking each state in terms of mental health prevalence and access to treatment, among other factors. Here are some of their stats about Florida:
- Mental Health America placed Florida at an overall ranking of 32.
- For adults, Florida placed at 26, but its ranking in youth mental health was 32.
- In overall prevalence of mental illness, Florida ranked at a low 9. However, its rating in access to mental health care was one of the lowest in the nation at 43.
- Another source stated that Florida ranked second-to-last in the amount of funding allocated for mental health care, at less than $40 per person in 2012.
Risk Factors in Boca Raton
Of course, not every region in the state will be dealing with the same issues that contribute to the overall crisis. Boca Raton has its own set of issues regarding mental illness.
Abuse of alcohol is a common risk factor for mental illness, as it can often lead to addiction as well as a number of physical ailments such as liver problems. According to a 2017 health report from Palm Beach County, the number of adults who reported engaging in binge drinking was relatively similar to that of the state from 2002 to 2013 (14.6 to 17.1 percent in Palm Beach County versus 15 to 17.6 percent in Florida).
The report also looked at the same behavior among high school students and found it to be significantly higher than adults, ranging from 18 to 26 percent within the same time frame. This was also higher than the state average of 16 to 23 percent.
Poor Treatment Access
Like most of the nation, Florida is also suffering from a lack of mental health professionals. A report from the Florida Behavioral Health Association stated that the national average ratio of residents to mental health professionals was 547:1 in 2016. Florida’s ratio was quite a bit higher at 750:1. Other states had much lower ratios, such as California with 350:1.
The less care available, the longer the wait times to get the treatment needed for mental illnesses. In 2013, the second most common reason for hospitalization in the state was psychosis. Usually severe mental illnesses like psychosis can be treated successfully – when the right care is available, that is.
Consequences of Crisis
Unfortunately, it appears that we are already able to see the consequences of this mental health crisis. In 2016, Palm Beach County had the third-highest suicide rate of all the counties in the state with a count of 230 deaths. This rate also seems to be rising. Between 2011 and 2015, the suicide rate rose annually from 13.8 percent to 15.7 percent in Palm Beach County, compared to 13.5 percent up to 14.6 percent for Florida overall.
Resources in Boca Raton
Although it can sometimes seem hopeless or difficult to know where to start, there is always help available. Boca Raton is home to some fine mental health facilities and doctors, and you can use E-Counseling to find the right one for you. E-Counseling is an online directory of mental health providers by location which you can easily use to take the first step toward better mental health today.