An Overview of Mental Health in East Orange, New Jersey
The citizens of East Orange, a city in New Jersey’s Essex county, face numerous challenges socially and economically. The population has seen a decline from 73,552 at the 1990 Census to 69,824 in the 2000 Census. As of 2016, the population was estimated at 64,797. The city’s residents tend to struggle financially, as the estimated median household income of East Orange is $40,561, lower than the median for Essex County ($54,860), the United States ($55,322), and much lower than the median for New Jersey, which was $76,126 as of 2016.
Demographic Data for East Orange, New Jersey
A vast majority of the residents of East Orange, 86.2 percent, identify as black. Residents identifying as Hispanic make up 8.3 percent of the population, while those identifying as white make up 2.3 percent. Male residents make up 48.7 percent of the population, while female residents make up 51.3 percent. The median resident age in East Orange is younger than that for New Jersey: 33.9 years and 39.5 years respectively.
Mental Health Statistics in East Orange, New Jersey
Statewide, New Jersey residents report an average of 3.3 poor mental health days per month, compared with a 3.5 average on a national scale. In Essex County, there are approximately 581 residents for every mental health provider, which is slightly better than the statewide ratio of 623 people for every one mental health provider.
Poor Physical Health Contributes To Poor Mental Health in East Orange, New Jersey
The percentages of Essex County residents with certain health conditions are moderate to high in Essex County:
- 7 percent of the population has diabetes
- 7 percent of the population is obese
- There are 701.9 new diagnoses of chlamydia per 100,000 people each year
- There are 1,567.3 new diagnoses of HIV per 100,000 people each year
A life-changing diagnosis has the potential to cause or contribute to stress disorders such as anxiety, not only in the patients but their families. These conditions can also have a negative effect on one’s self image.
Other Factors Affecting Mental Health in East Orange, New Jersey
The city of East Orange faces serious challenges that can affect the state of mental health among its residents, as well as their accessibility to mental health services:
- Poverty: The poverty rate of East Orange is extremely high at 20.2 percent. The largest demographics of people living in poverty in East Orange are African Americans, Hispanics, and females age 25 to 34. It is notable that 9.9 percent of people living in poverty are Hispanic even though Hispanics only make up 8.3 percent of the population.
- Violent Crime: The rates of homicides and violent crime are extremely high in Essex County, especially as compared with the rest of New Jersey. Essex County has the highest rate of violent crime of any New Jersey county: 681.2 incidences per 100,000 people every year. The homicide rate is 15.4 per 100,000 people.
- Education: While 5 percent of adult East Orange residents have a high school diploma or better, only 18.8 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or better.
- Drug Abuse: East Orange had 466 admissions to treatment for substance abuse in 2015, making it number two of the top five municipalities in Essex County for admissions. Of the 466 admissions, 166 were primarily for heroin, while 124 were for marijuana/hashish.
Community Responses and Resources
In areas where there is a lack of treatment resources available, many people with mental health challenges must either rely on emergency treatment at hospitals or else wind up in jail. In 2012, Essex County implemented a program that would steer nonviolent offenders with a mental health issue away from jail. Instead, they would be evaluated and linked with appropriate services within their community if the mental illness was a factor in the commission of the crime. The program was initiated not only to help people obtain the help they need but also as a deterrent to repeat offenses. There is currently no data available as to whether or not it was successful.
The state government of New Jersey maintains a directory of mental health resources, organized by county.