An Overview of Mental Health in Compton, California
California boasts a beautiful climate year-round; Compton is no different. The weather is comfortable and dry from October through May, with June through September being slightly warm with highs reaching the 80s. Located just south of downtown Las Angeles, Compton is home to many working class citizens and some middle-class neighborhoods. The city is home to several famous rappers, making it a destination for aspiring artists.
Over 97,000 people live in Compton with a median household income of only $49,000 versus the California median of $67,739. The cost of living in Compton, California is also approximately 19% higher than it is elsewhere in the state. This poverty, along with widespread gang activity, contributes to the mental health disorders present in the city.
Despite the young age of the people living in Compton, California, with the median being only 25 years old, the poverty rate is 25.5%. The abundance of minority groups and non-English speakers may contribute to the health of the inhabitants of Compton.
Approximately 40% of the minority group are homeless, increasing the likelihood of the following disorders.
- Major depression
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Being 20% more likely to experience these problems is potentially a result of their increased experience of certain factors, such as exposure to violence, that amplify the risk of developing mental health conditions. Compton, California is 30.6% African American, giving these statistics visible effects in the city.
With over 11,000 gang members in Compton and gang activity that is continually increasing, drug abuse and violence are rampant in the city. Of violent crimes, 1 in 86 are victims of such illicit activity in Compton versus 1 in 225 in the state of California. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has found that gangs, guns, drugs and violence are undoubtedly interconnected. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 15% of the people in jail for violent crimes reported that they committed the illegal activity to get money for drugs.
Poverty is more likely to precede mental illnesses, and the mental health problems are then worsened by poverty, creating a self-reinforcing cycle once the first circumstance of an economic stressor hits. Gang membership correlates with a 67% increase in depression and a 104% increase in suicidal thoughts.
Compton, California compared to the county it is in (and the rest of California) has a larger percentage of people who have little interest going out and who feel down, depressed, or hopeless, which are common signs of depression. People in Compton also report increased instances of poor appetite or overeating, both triggers of eating disorders. More residents of the city have trouble concentrating, a deficit that signals potential ADHD. Those in Compton, lastly, have more thoughts that they would be better off dead, which are categorized as suicidal thoughts and can lead to suicidal ideations or attempts.
Mental Health Resources in Compton
Though there are abundant resources for help in Compton, California, including Compton Mental Health Center and SHIELDS for Families, there are several barriers to receiving the necessary help.
- Poverty and insurance
- Too few mental illness professionals
- Increased psychiatric admission
- Inconsistent Care
The poverty rates and high number of people who are uninsured make it difficult to receive the help that individuals need. Next, there are only 272 mental disorder professionals per 100,000 people in Compton. With psychiatric admissions increasing by 30% from 2010-2015 in the state of California, one problem in Compton is the lack of professionals and beds to care for all the mentally ill. The director of Outpatient Mental Health and Addiction Medicine called for “more integrated, collaborated care,” linking poverty and minority groups with a decreased likelihood of receiving treatment.
E-Counseling seeks to answer this call for more integrated care in Compton, California. This directory of mental health professionals assists those in need of therapy find trusted counselors, while also providing free content on understanding the industry and coping with mental health disorders.