Mental Health Concerns and Resources in Durham, North Carolina
Located in the north-central part of North Carolina, the city of Durham is the core of the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area. Durham is the 4th most populous city in the state of North Carolina with 267,743 residents as per the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 estimates. The area has seen a 17.2% increase in population since 2010, outpacing both the state and national averages of 7.7% and 5.5% respectively.
While the per capita income in Durham ($30,645) is slightly higher than the national average ($29,829), the area has a much higher percentage of people living below the poverty line (18.5%) as compared to the averages for North Carolina (14.7%) and the United States (12.3%).
In addition to income and poverty, health insurance is another socioeconomic factor that has a huge impact on residents’ ability to receive mental health care when needed. In Durham, 16% of the population under 65 years of age has no health insurance. In comparison, 12.6% of North Carolina’s residents and 10.2% of the U.S. population are without insurance.
The State of Mental Health in Durham, North Carolina
The 2017 Durham County Community Health Assessment reports that adult residents experienced on average 5.1 days of poor mental health in the past month, compared to 3.8 days on average for the state of North Carolina. Durham residents identified several primary causes of stress in their lives with 44% reporting work-related stress. Caring for loved ones with illness or disability ranked second with 27.2%, personal relationships ranked third with 25.4%, and bills was the fourth most common cause of stress with 23.8%.
The Community Health Assessment also reports that 28% of high school students and 26% of middle school students have had depressive thoughts or feelings. Additionally, 14% of high school students and 18% of middle school students have contemplated suicide.
In light of these findings, it is not surprising that 55% of Durham residents have identified mental health as one of the top 5 health priorities in Durham County along with affordable housing, access to healthcare and insurance, poverty, and obesity and diabetes. The Community Health Assessment has formulated the following three specific objectives focused on mental health in Durham:
- Reduce the average number of poor mental health days in the last month among adults;
- Reduce the suicide rate among residents;
- Reduce the number of mental health-related visits to the ER.
Mental Health Care Availability in Durham, North Carolina
According to the Community Health Assessment, Durham is one of the top cities when it comes to access to health care. The ratio of residents to mental health providers in Durham County is 200 to 1 compared to 360 to 1 average for the top performing counties in the United States and a staggering 490 to 1 average for North Carolina.
The Community Health Assessment also provides an extensive list of mental health care initiatives and organizations. Some of the resources available to Durham residents include:
- Alliance Behavioral Healthcare
- Carolina Outreach Behavioral Health Urgent Care
- Durham Network of Care
- Partnership for a Healthy Durham
- Durham System of Care
- Durham VA Medical Center
- Together for Resilient Youth
- Duke Children’s Evaluation Center
Alliance Behavioral Healthcare caters to individuals without health insurance or ability to pay for health care services. The agency is responsible for providing developmental disability, mental and behavioral health services to the residents of Cumberland,
Durham, Wake and Johnston counties. In 2017 the organization provided services to 46,204 Medicaid members and 18,143 individuals using state funding.
How to Choose a Mental Health Care Provider
If you have no insurance or ability to pay for care, you should take advantage of the public mental health system in North Carolina. If you are looking for a private provider however, you should consider their specialization, their past experience with treating your condition, and their reputation as a health care provider in the community.
You can find additional mental and behavioral care specialists in our professional directory. We strive to include only reputable providers who can assist with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, stress, substance abuse and other more serious mental illnesses. We also want to educate people about the importance of seeking mental health care and selecting the right professional.
If you or a loved one are currently experiencing an emotional or mental crisis, you should call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or go to the nearest ER.