An Overview of Mental Health in Evanston, Illinois
A suburb north of Chicago, Evanston is a city of 75,472 people located in Cook County, Illinois. Residents of Evanston are relatively young, with a median age of 35.4 compared to 37.9 years for the entire state. Female residents notably outnumber male residents in Evanston, 54.1 and 45.9 percent, respectively.
There is an economic disparity in Evanston; the median household income is anywhere between $66,000 and $72,000 per year, far exceeding the averages for the United States, Illinois, and Cook County, but a significant percentage of the population (13.7 percent) lives in poverty, bringing the per capita income to $43,705 in 2016.
A study conducted in suburban Cook County in or around 2011 indicated that 12.8 percent of respondents reported eight or more mentally unhealthy days per month and 26.4 percent reported one to seven mentally unhealthy days per month, for a total of 39.2 percent of respondents in suburban Cook County reporting at least one mentally unhealth day per month, compared with 60.8 percent of respondents reporting zero mentally unhealthy days.
When it comes to mental health in and around the Chicago area, including Evanston, young people are of particular concern:
- Percentage of Chicago adolescents reporting depression symptoms, which prevented them from doing usual activities, for two or more weeks: 34 percent
- Percentage of children likely to screen positive for mental health concerns: 35 to 40 percent
- Percentage of the juvenile justice population with mental health problems: 70 percent
- Percentage of children who die by suicide that have a mental health condition: 90-plus percent
It is between the years of 16 and 25 when mental illness often first emerges.
Mental Health Resources in or Near Evanston
The city of Evanston provides mental health services in the form of case management and short-term services for people in crisis, information and referrals about local agency services and other mental health programs, as well as individual assistance in finding services.
Evanston residents seeking treatment on the north side of Chicago can find help at the Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, which provides inpatient and outpatient services, including substance abuse treatment, to adults, adolescents, and children.
The Challenge of Finding a Suitable Therapist in Evanston
Within the last 10 years, the state of Illinois has experienced a mental health crisis precipitated by budget cuts of $113.7 million from mental health services at the state level that has resulted in numerous mental health providers throughout the state closing their doors, including six mental health clinics in Chicago alone; suburban mental treatment centers laying off psychiatrists due to cost concerns; increased emergency room visits for people in psychiatric crisis; increased numbers of nights spent in homeless shelters; and approximately two-thirds of the Cook County Jail population consisting of people with a mental illness.
The Affordable Care Act has helped to provide health insurance to those who would not be able to afford it otherwise, so that people who were previously denied coverage now have the resources available to seek mental health treatment. However, the ACA does not, and was not intended to, do anything to address the funding and staffing problems caused by Illinois’ budget cuts. The situation has recently improved somewhat for people on Medicaid, as Illinois was recently granted a waiver that allows them to restructure services to focus more on preventive care.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Evanston
Violent crime and homicide are a significant problem in Cook County, with 10.7 homicide deaths annually per 100,000 people. However, the statistics are not quite that high for Evanston proper. The highest murder rate per 100,000 people in Evanston in the past 10 years was 7.8 in 2010. Victims of violent crime and their family members are more likely to suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Risky Behaviors: Cook County diagnoses of HIV and chlamydia are among the most prevalent in the state of Illinois. Not only can a diagnosis of HIV cause an emotional shock but mental illness may be a symptom of the virus itself.
Poverty: The largest demographic to live in poverty in Evanston is women age 18 to 24. Given the high female population and relatively young median age in Evanston, this is significant. Poverty can have negative health effects on both the body and the mind.