An Overview of Mental Health in Fall River, Massachusetts
Fall River, Massachusetts is just minutes away from dozens of beautiful, historical destinations that attract tourists from around the country, but for those who live there, life may not be as pretty as the postcards. As the 10th largest city in the state, mental health services are stretched too thin for its population of over 88,000, which may contribute to their high divorce rates and growing homeless population.
Mental Health Statistics in Fall River
Although Fall River sits at about the national average in terms of total mental health diagnoses, those who have been diagnosed are more likely to have severe mental illnesses, have difficulty finding treatment, and are more likely to suffer from drug addiction in addition to mental health issues.
- Fall River has approximately 1 therapist per 250 people.
- According to Data USA, Massachusetts has the 4th highest opioid overdose rate in the US.
- A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration shows that about 222,000 adults in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, and about 208,000 have had serious thoughts of suicide, slightly higher than the national average.
- In the same study, it was found that only 53 percent of Massachusetts adults diagnosed with any mental illness actually receive treatment.
- Of those who do receive treatment, 66 percent see improvement – four percent lower than the national average.
- According to the Massachusetts Family Institute, the divorce rate has steadily grown over the last fifty years.
Mental Health Challenges in Fall River
Fall River suffers from an overburdened mental health system that can’t meet the demand of patients in the area. Though many things can contribute to mental health issues – high stress, trauma, genetic factors, abuse, etc. – there are some factors that specifically affect residents of Fall River.
Homelessness and Drug Abuse
When the average property value is $227,000, and the median income is just over $36,000, it’s no surprise that nearly a quarter of the population is living at or below the poverty line. This is leading to a growing homeless population rife with mental health issues. In fact, up to 1 in 4 homeless people are afflicted with some form of mental illness in the US. Those who suffer from mental illness are less likely to be able to gain and retain employment. Out of all adults diagnosed with mental illness in Massachusetts, over 64 percent were unemployed. People with mental health issues are also more likely to turn to drugs when they aren’t properly treated, leading to the prevalence of opioid addiction and overdose seen in Massachusetts in recent years.
Unfortunately, this problem is only growing, as treatment can be difficult to find due to shortages of therapists, and long waiting lists for detox programs. Those who need mental health services can get stuck waiting four to five times as long for help as people with physical conditions.
Although the state of Massachusetts has some of the lowest divorce rates in the country, Fall River has the highest divorce rates in the state, at over seventeen percent. The ratio of divorces to new marriages has been steadily growing over the last half-century and shows no sign of declining. Due to the lack of therapists, it’s difficult for struggling couples to get the marriage counseling they need. Even happily married couples can benefit from marital counseling and mental health services, in order to catch and solve potential problems before they become big issues. People who have already completed the process can also benefit from mental health services, as a divorce can be a traumatic and distressing event.
It’s also important for children of divorce to see a counselor at least once. Divorce can be very hard on younger minds and may lead to mental health issues later in life if not addressed early on. Children should see a therapist who specializes in child psychology, as a child’s mind is still developing and may work differently than an adult’s.