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Dr. Alexandra Duffy
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An Overview of Mental Health in Chicopee, Massachusetts
Chicopee, Massachusetts, located in Hampden County, is an intimate East Coast town of 55,582 residents. Though it has a small-town vibe, it is the state’s third-largest city and once a major center of industrial innovation. Chicopee residents enjoy nearby mountains, museums and cultural entertainment, bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and a low cost of living.
Chicopee At a Glance
Chicopee, like any suburbanized city in the United States, comes with its pros and cons. Its economy is probably its greatest detriment. While once a significant manufacturing center, Chicopee has little to offer in the way of work. Though the median age of residents is 39.6, the city only has enough jobs to support about half of its residents. As a result, the poverty rate in the area is 15.3%.
The median household income in Chicopee is $48,866, down nearly 3% from 2016 to 2017. Households make about $4,000 less than Hampden County households, about $10,000 less than U.S. households and about $26,000 less than state households. Full-time male employees in Massachusetts as a hole made 1.34 times more than female counterparts with the same level of education, experience and skillsets and in the same position.
The low cost of living in Chicopee balances out the low-level of income. For instance, the median property value in the area is $175,500. In Hampden County, the median property value hovers right around $200,000. At a state level, the median property value is $352,600. Despite the low property values, however, only 57% of homes in the city are owner-occupied. The median gross rent is $917, which only slightly less than that of the national gross rent.
A Mental Health Overview of Chicopee, MA
A 2016 Community Needs Assessment revealed that mental illness was among the top three urgent health needs/problems impacting area residents. Substance abuse — or, opioid abuse in particular — was identified as a top issue. In Massachusetts, the number of opioid-related deaths increased by 65% in just two years. Opioid-overdose deaths in Hampden are higher than that of state rates, at 12.7 fatalities per 100,000 individuals, compared with 10.7 statewide.
Substance abuse is not just a problem among adults. According to the report, 15% of 8th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. 12% reported marijuana use.
Mental illness and substance abuse disorders are often concurrent. 15.9% of county residents reported having experienced 15 days or more of poor mental health in the past 30 days. In 2012, Chicopee hospitals saw approximately 2,700 ER visits for mental health.
Data from a youth health survey indicate that 34% of Hampden middle-schoolers felt “so sad or hopeless that they stopped engaging in their everyday activities.” At a statewide level, that percentage was at just 20%.
LBGTQ is also a particularly vulnerable population. 56% of LGBTQ 10th and 12th-grade students who responded to the youth assessment survey reported feeling sad or hopeless for two weeks or more throughout the year, while nearly one-quarter admit to having thoughts of suicide.
Latinos are also a vulnerable population. The hospitalization rates for Latinos was 65% higher than for whites and 40% higher for Hampden County rates overall.
Resources for Help and Treatment
The Hampden County Health Improvement Plan of 2017 outlines a number of objectives regarding mental health treatment and accessibility. Its overall goal is to rank 10th or better among Massachusetts’s counties on health outcomes by 2027. Currently, it stands at number 14. To achieve this goal, it plans to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health, increase residents’ use of preventative behavioral health care, streamline the way in which residents can access treatment and increase residents’ knowledge of available care, among other steps. Until it can achieve its goals, however, there are other resources residents can turn to when in crisis:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Available 24 hours every day at 1-800-273-8255
- City of Chicopee Police Department: Emergencies, 911; Narcotics Hotline, 413-594-1765
- Your First Step: Help for finding appropriate addiction treatment, 888-539-6544
- CHD: A non-profit that offers critical and mental health services to residents throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, (413) 733 – 6624
Though emergency resources are extremely valuable when you experience an immediate health crisis for concern, mental illness requires ongoing treatment and monitoring. For the ongoing help you need and deserve, find a qualified therapist online today.