An Overview of Mental Health in Bossier City, Louisiana
Mental illness has probably always been an issue across Louisiana and the United States, but has only recently been referred to as a health crisis. Decreased stigma due to greater and wider understanding is likely one of the most important reasons for this. While the stigma still exists, we are better off now than we ever have been, considering the history of mental health “treatment” throughout the years.
However, with this in mind, we still have a long way to go. Nationally, approximately one in five people will experience mental illness every year. There is still a significant portion of the population that has trouble accessing mental health care when they need it due to a variety of issues, such as insurance problems and a general shortage of mental health professionals.
Different parts of the country are affected by different factors, which in turn contribute to a unique mental health climate. Mental Health America created a ranking system that rates each state on different aspects of mental health. This can give us a starting point for understanding an area’s strengths and weaknesses in coping with the mental health crisis. MHA has given Louisiana an overall rank of 38, putting the state on the low end of the list. Of course, factors can vary widely even across a single state, so it is also important to examine smaller areas in depth. Let’s take a look at Bossier City in northwestern Louisiana.
Bossier City at a Glance
Bossier City is a community of approximately 68,554 residents located in Bossier Parish. It is a part of the Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area. The city’s economy specializes in the arts, public administration and natural resources. Its residents have a median income of over $48,000, and a per capita income of about $25,000.
While the city has a fairly low unemployment rate at 6 percent, its poverty rate is 19.3 percent. This is lower than the state percentage of 19.7, but both rates are quite high compared to the national average of 12.3 percent.
Mental Health in Bossier City
When a city has a high poverty rate and a low unemployment rate, it can indicate a shortage of jobs that pay a living wage. Poverty is commonly correlated with mental illness. It can be either a result of the illness or a contributor to it, or even both. A mental illness can prevent an individual from holding down a job and paying the bills. It could also come on as a result of the stresses of financial insecurity.
Poverty is a very common factor when it comes to mental health, but it is far from the only one. Many different factors can play a role in the local mental health climate.
Mental Health America also gave Louisiana a very poor rating in terms of access to mental health care at a rank of 46. This issue appears to carry over into Bossier City as well. A community health needs report on the Shreveport-Bossier City area referenced multiple barriers to accessing mental health care, including a lack of mental health specialists, high treatment costs, transportation issues, insurance troubles, stigma and individuals simply being unaware of the options available.
Minorities and Language Barriers
Unfortunately, it is common for minorities to have a higher prevalence of mental illness and more trouble getting the treatment they need. There can be multiple reasons for this, and they can vary by minority group and location. However, one possible contributor in Bossier City is a language barrier. Over 4 percent of its residents are native speakers of the Spanish language. The city also has a high number of native French speakers, at almost 1.5 times the national rate.
Bossier City has historically had a high suicide rate. In 2013, the state rate was 12.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand, Bossier City had a rate of 17 suicides per 100,000 people. The national rate in 2013 was 12.6 per 100,000.
Resources in Bossier City
No matter what kind of mental health problem you are facing, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you cope and even recover, such as Northwest Louisiana Human Services. Another great resource you can utilize is E-Counseling, an online directory that can help you locate a mental health professional who meets your personal preferences. You can take the first step toward better mental health today.