Denver, Colorado Therapists
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An Overview of Mental Health in Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado–known for its breathtaking landscape views and a number of natural parks from which to savor them–is considered the third best place to live in the United States, based on metrics concerning career prospects, quality of life, and government census data. With clear, moderately sunny weather and a municipal ambition to establish depression-stifling park spaces within a 10-minute walk from all residents, it is unsurprising that the city has consistently ranked as a desirable region for families to establish their lives. However, lending credibility to the idea that factors related to financial wellness and typically perceived indicators of high life quality do not necessarily equate to happiness, Denver does not maintain this impressive ranking in terms of emotional wellness.
The State of Mental Wellness in Denver
A 2018 WalletHub study that drew upon data concerning depression rates and other factors scientifically linked to happiness ranked Denver 32 in emotional and physical wellness out of 180 American cities. Some expert opinions predict that depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world in the upcoming years, and Denver’s depression and suicide rates give credence to this prediction. The state has carried a high suicide rate over the past decade and struggled to address its high depression prevalence through government efforts with subjective degrees of success. A 2018 publication considering both federal data on Colorado behavioral health and regional resources estimated that anywhere from 7-17% of Colorado residents suffer from depression with woman and minority demographics likely experiencing the condition at a higher rate.
Increased rates of mental illness in Denver minority communities parallels national trends and may partially root from higher poverty rates among minority households in Denver County. 14% of Denver lives at or below the federal threshold for poverty, and about one-third of Latino and African-American children live in poverty, reflecting racial disparity in income that may reflect overall patterns in the region. Furthermore, Denver females aged 18-44, (an age range associated with high suicide rates in Denver),experience higher levels of poverty. A recent study suggests that poverty in Denver, which has typically been concentrated in its most urban, densely packed neighborhoods, is slowly permeating Denver County’s suburbs, taking with it the mental hardships associated with financial hardship.
The delicate physiology of developing brains makes teenagers particularly susceptible to depressive disorders, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that approximately 12% of Colorado adolescents reported experiencing a major depressive episode within the last year, a percentage point above the national average. In Denver, approximately 7% of adolescents have been formally diagnosed with depressive disorders. Though these rates do not notably differ from national averages, Colorado’s completed suicide rate is significantly higher than other states. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Colorado has the 9th highest suicide rate in the country, with approximately 20 deaths for every 100,000 residents. These rates in Colorado have been steadily increasing since 2009, with 2016 seeing 1,156 deaths due to suicide, and though suicide is the third leading cause of death among younger age groups nationwide, it is the number one cause of death for similar demographics in Colorado. Denver County itself, however, appears to contribute far less to this these statistics than counties south and west of it.
Mental Health Treatments Availability in Denver
The Colorado Department of Health shows a high concentration of mental care facilities in the Denver metropolitan area relative to the state as a whole, but an overall shortage and lack of access to quality health insurance prevents many from accessing the care they need. Approximately 30% of Coloradans–over 1 million people–require mental health and substance abuse services, yet only 15% of psychiatrists are available for every 100,000 residents. This reflects progress since 2003, which saw the state’s mental health needs met by only 10,564 providers. This number climbed to 14,217 by 2011, and continues to do so, yet the region still struggles to meet its mental health needs in the face of rising opioid use and cultural acknowledgement of mental disorders. For those with severe mental difficulties, the circumstances are dire. As psychiatric conditions are typically viewed as less pressing through a traditional medical lens, hospitals in Colorado spend less resources to accommodate those with mental illnesses. One of Colorado’s primary hospitals, University Hospital, closed its psychiatric unit several years ago, although 10% of patients arriving to its emergency room were admitted on grounds of mental illness. However, the health department’s site lists three government-affiliated mental health community centers in Denver, (Charge Resource Center, the Mental Health Center of Denver, and Servicios De La Raza), but a total of 17 can be found throughout the city. The last of these is Denver’s largest state-funded facility, featuring an emergency walk-in crisis center that served over 4,000 patients with urgent needs in 2017.
Local nonprofits seek to bolster the city’s efforts in furthering their options for mental health treatment. The newly opened Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic provides specialized services for veterans and their families, while the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has long sought to address disproportionate inadequacies in mental treatment for the city’s increasing homeless population. As there are over 30,000 veterans residing in Denver County and at least 5,116 homeless individuals in the region, such organizations help minimize a crucial need in populations with more unique needs.