An Overview of Mental Health in Columbia, Missouri
The lush, charming town of Columbia, Missouri is home to an impressive 121,717 people, as per 2017 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more notable is how rapidly the population is increasing over time. The once small city now sees its population inflate by roughly 11 percent every decade or so – much higher than most neighboring cities. However, one does not have to look far to figure out why people are ostensibly moving to Columbia, Missouri in droves. Amenities, such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and entertainment establishments, are readily available around just about every street corner. The region’s weather is also quite appealing, with temperate summers and mild winters.
That being said, Columbia is not free of its problems. Although the primary motivation behind one’s decision to move to Columbia is identical to that of most other American cities (a job opportunity), many are struggling financially. High paying employment, specifically, is especially hard to find with the average income per capita being eight percent lower than the national average, as per the U.S Census Bureau. Columbia is feeling the effects of more than one pressing issue. The city’s financial problems are contributing to a separate complex issue, according to experts. They are saying Columbia is going through a “mental health crisis.” Let’s go over, in depth, what that means, why the mental health crisis is happening, and what you can do to reach out to a therapist who can provide help if you are in need.
Unfortunately, mental health is becoming more of a concern for areas far beyond just one city. A particularly alarming statistic comes from a recent report from Johns Hopkins Medicine. It estimates one in four American adults (18+) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. When looking at the state of Missouri, specifically, the results do not look much better. As per a 2017 report from Mental Health America, the state of Missouri is amongst the top 55 percent of states regarding the prevalence of mental illness as well as lack of access to care. So, why is the mental health situation in Columbia so poor?
First of all, Columbia is dealing with a major crime problem. Residents routinely describe crime as “rampant” throughout the city. In fact, according to statistics sourced from the FBI, the overall crime rate in Columbia, Missouri is almost ten percent higher than the rest of the United States. The relationship between crime and mental health is significant. Statistically speaking, areas with higher rates of crime tend to have higher rates of mental illness. Regrettably, Columbia is not an exception.
Columbia’s economic status quo cannot be described as prosperous. In fact, the poverty level in the area is 56 percent higher than the national average. A harsh reality is that poverty is known to not only breed mental illness but exacerbate the experience of dealing with it because of a lack of care. A study commissioned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) claims American adults who qualify as living below the federal poverty level are more than two times as likely to suffer from a diagnosable behavioral disorder. Undoubtedly, the severe nature of many people’s economic situations in Columbia negatively impacts the mental health of the community.
The Trouble of Finding a Suitable Therapist in Columbia, Missouri
A harsh reality is Americans across the country are finding the process of seeking help via counseling as being troublesome. A revealing study published by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests a clear majority (57 percent) of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment during any given year, regardless of the necessity to do so. Experts are pointing fingers at the nationwide shortage of mental health care professionals providing treatment to patients as being a leading cause.
In the case of Columbia, people are identifying ineffective legislation, poverty, and stigma surrounding mental illness as being reasons behind the lack of access to care in the city. While the rate of individuals without any form of health insurance is similar to the national average, as per the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of impoverished inhabitants is much higher than the national average. For those earning low wages in Columbia, the out-of-pocket expense of a therapist can be too much to be economically viable.
The good news is thanks to consideration from state and federal entities, the government is continuing to direct more funds towards combatting mental illness. Thus, more organizations who focus on treating mental health conditions are able to exist. Thankfully, the city of Columbia has a good number of these institutions with their doors open and more on their way. The Burrell Behavioral Health Center provides a bevy of crisis and other services to those in the area. New Horizons offers similar mental health services to both youths and adults of the community.
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