An Overview of Mental Health in Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston city is the capital of West Virginia and also the most populous in the state with a population of 47, 215. This population estimate is eight percent down from 2010 when the city had a total of 51,338 residents. Charleston is in Kanawha County and is part of the Charleston metropolitan area. There are multiple college campuses including a branch of West Virginia University, the University of Charleston, West Virginia State University, Marshall University, and others. The city is also home to Charleston Town Center, a large three-story shopping mall with 130 specialty stores. There are many annual events that take place in the city as well.
While salt, natural gas, and coal used to be the primary trades in Charleston, today the city’s economy centers around trade, utilizes, government positions, medicine, and education. The median household income is $47,701. The poverty rate is 20.6 percent, which is almost double the national rate of 11.8 percent in 2018. Only 56.3 percent of homes are owned. The median value for owner-occupied homes was $145,300 between the years 2014 and 2018, and the median gross rent was $727.
Mental Health Concerns in Charleston, West Virginia
While mental illness can affect anyone of any age or background, there are some populations of people who are greatly affected by mental illness including:
- Impoverished individuals
- Some minority groups
- Homeless people
- Incarcerated people
When looking at the mental health situation in Charleston, it is important to identify what groups of people are at-risk and address a lack of access where necessary. Here are some concerns that are specific to the Charleston area.
According to the Point-In-Time report in 2015, there were a total of 385 homeless individuals in Kanawha Valley Collective, which includes Boone, Clay, Kanawha, and Putnam counties. 44 of these individuals were unsheltered, 22.7 percent of which struggled with chronic substance abuse and 40.9 percent with a mental illness. Out of the 341 sheltered homeless individuals, 21.1 percent had a chronic substance abuse disorder and 34.9 percent were mentally ill.
Between the years 2010 and 2014, 10.8 percent of adults in Kanawha County reported binge drinking. Additionally, the rate of DUI arrests per every 10,000 drivers was much higher in Kanawha County than the rest of West Virginia. 3.1 percent of people in the area were reported abusing or being dependent on illegal drugs. In 2013, Kanawha ranked first in the state for morbidity rates per 10,000 discharges for a drug-related diagnosis.
There were a total of 2,149 people served by the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Kanawha County in 2012, 2,051 of which were not sheltered. 3.9 percent of victims were referred to mental health provider. Substance abuse contributed to the behavior of the abuser for 29.8 percent of domestic violence abusers.
The suicide rate in Kanawha County from the years 2010 to 2014 was 20.8, which was higher than the state average of 17.4. About 21 percent of people in the region have any sort of mental health issue and 5.5 percent have a serious mental illness.
Trouble Accessing Mental Healthcare in Charleston
The state of West Virginia ranks 39th in the country for the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse issues. Overall, the state ranks 29th in access to care, and 51.4 of residents in the state with a mental illness did not receive care. While the state as a whole has an uninsured rate of 6.8 percent, the city of Charleston has a higher uninsured rate of 8.4 percent, which means it might be more difficult for residents to afford treatment. One major issue for West Virginia is a low availability of mental health workers in the state. The city ranks 49th in this aspect with a rate of one provider for every 830 residents.
Mental Health Resources in Charleston
Individuals in Charleston who are experiencing a mental health crisis should not hesitate to seek help. If immediate assistance is needed, the following resources can help:
Charleston Police Department: 9-1-1 or 304-348-6460 (Chief’s Office)
Charleston Area Medical Center- Emergency Room: 304-388-7498
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Thomas Behavioral Health Connection: 304-766-3600
Help is available to those who need it. Connect with a therapist in your area today.