An Overview of Mental Health in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the self-proclaimed “Indie Capital of the Midwest,” is a university town that prides itself on its independent and forward-thinking attitude. The city of 68, 587 residents is located at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers, providing for a scenic backdrop for the many artists and entrepreneurs that make Eau Claire home. It’s location and downright welcoming culture attract millions of tourists each year, which may explain why retail and trade and hospitality and food services are among some of its top industries. However, despites its Indie attitude and charming appearance, Eau Claire, like most every other U.S. city, struggles with mental health among its residents.
Eau Claire At a Glance
To better understand what mental health problems Eau Claire residents may face, it is important to understand Eau Claire’s economy. The median household income in the river city is $45,403, which is $10,000 less than the national median household income. It is also 17 percent less than the state’s and significantly less than the county’s. The poverty rate is 17.7 percent, which is slightly more than the national poverty rate. While one may be tempted to blame these numbers on the fact that Eau Claire is a college town, the average age of residents is 30.9, far above college graduate age.
The average salary for men in Eau Claire is $53,025. The average income per capita is $25,908, which is significantly less than the nation’s. Women make a startlingly low $39,158 in comparison – more than $13,000 less than their male counterparts.
The most common industries in Eau Claire are healthcare, education and retail trade. The most common occupations are administrative, sales and food and serving.
Approximately a quarter of 18 to 24-year-old and 25 to 34-year-old individuals do not have healthcare coverage. This may be attributed to the low income.
In terms of cost of living, Eau Claire earned a C+. Its index rating is 94, which is lower than the state’s and nation’s ratings. However, for healthcare, transportation and utilities, it scored far above the national and state averages.
In terms of weather, Eau Claire earned an F. The average summer high is just 68 degrees.
Factors That May Contribute to Mental Disorders
Now that you know what’s going on beneath Eau Claire’s surface, you may be able to better understand what may contribute to its declining mental health state. Some factors that have been known to impact mental health are as follows:
- Poverty: Low income and poverty are known risk factors for poor mental health. Even those residents of Eau Claire that earn $25,000 may struggle to make ends meet, as the cost of living in the city is right around the national average. Poverty in adulthood is associated with anxiety and depressive disorders, psychological distress and suicide. Poverty in childhood is linked to worse cognitive behavior, depressive and anxiety disorders, lower school achievement and higher rates of almost every psychiatric disorder in adulthood.
- Industry and Occupation: Retail and food and serving fall among the top three industries in which workers are most at risk of mental and behavioral disorders. The healthcare field doesn’t fair much better. Because of the psychological distress, emotional labor, long and odd work hours, stress over errors and litigation and bullying by patients, caregivers and colleagues, healthcare workers are at a higher risk of developing mood, anxiety, sleep and other psychiatric disorders. Individuals who work office jobs have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those in non-administrative occupations.
- Weather: Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder during the colder months. SAD is characterized by depression, lack of energy, excessive sleeping, agitation, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. Because of its chronically dreary weather, Eau Claire is a place in which residents may never be able to escape SAD.
- Excessive Drinking: Eau Claire County has the highest excessive drinking prevalence rate of any other county in Wisconsin, at 27.3 percent. Excessive drinking is associated with anxiety and depression, low income, job loss and other physical and mental health issues.
Help May Be a Click Away
Though they shouldn’t, mental health disorders have a very real stigma about them. This stigma may make individuals hesitant to reach out for help. E-Counseling wants to remove that stigma and make finding mental health care easy and discreet. If you experience any feelings of depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide or other adverse mental behaviors, use E-Counseling’s directory to find the help you deserve.