An Overview of Mental Health in Flagstaff, Arizona
This community is one that seeks opportunities to know each other and live well together. The annual Be a Good Neighbor event fosters this community, especially seeking connections between students and long-term residents of the city. As the cultural hub of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff supports the arts to positively influence the economy and improve quality of life. Adventure and exploration exist during every season in the city, drawing residents and visitors alike to enjoy the great outdoors. Investigate the night sky with the low-light pollution at Lowell Observatory or take a hike in the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine forest.
With a population of about 70,000 people, Flagstaff, Arizona is a complex city that is changing constantly. A look into demographics, crime, finances, and mental health supports this fact. The city is around 64 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, and eight percent American Indian. The crime has fluctuated, greatly, but in general, there is a one in 24 chance of becoming a victim of a crime. With a median income of less than $51,000 and a poverty rate of over 23 percent, the residents of Flagstaff struggle financially. Mental illnesses are rampant, especially substance abuse disorders and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
The widespread suicide in Flagstaff reflects the serious mental health concerns. This city in Coconino County reported that, on average, one of its residents committed suicide every two weeks between 2010 and 2016.
- The rate of suicide is 25.4, which is much higher than Arizona’s rate of 13.3 and the United States rate of 18.2.
- Over 50 percent of the suicides in the county were committed in the Flagstaff area.
- 80 percent of the deaths were male with a median age of 39 years old.
- LGBTQ teens are also at a high risk with 60 percent feel sad or hopeless, 38 percent making suicide plans, and 29 percent attempting suicide.
- Native Americans represent one out of every three suicide attempts.
Many of those facing poverty simultaneously deal with mental illnesses. The Guidance Center (TGC), a nonprofit community mental health center, found that homelessness, food insecurity, lack of meaningful work, relocation to unfamiliar areas away from natural supports, forced relocation and cultural trauma, and coverage of services are the primary concerns among those with mental illnesses. While health care is more expensive in Flagstaff, the rate of uninsured residents is higher than that of Arizona.
Hispanics and Native Americans
These populations present unique mental health concerns and needs. About 25 percent of Hispanics live in poverty, and Latino high school females are more likely to report suicidal thinking. Language barriers affect evaluations and treatment; for example, only 36 percent of Hispanics versus 60 percent of whites received care for depression. Native Americans battle post traumatic stress disorder twice as often as the general population, and they use and abuse alcohol at higher rates and younger ages. They face higher levels of poverty and often lack awareness of mental issues and services.
Arizona residents struggle with substance abuse disorders and mental health treatment for the problems. About 11 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported using illicit drugs in the past month, while over five percent of the age group participated in nonmedical use of pain relievers. About eight percent of individuals 12 or older abused or were dependent on alcohol, and over three percent abused or were dependent on illicit drugs. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of those struggling with alcohol received treatment, and only 15.1 percent of those battling illicit drug addictions received treatment.
Though Flagstaff is number six on the list of the top cities with the largest crime index decrease from 2002 to 2012, the crime is ubiquitous, making the city undesirable and coexisting with many mental health concerns in the perpetrators and victims.
- Flagstaff has a significantly higher rate of murder, theft, and property crime than the reset of Arizona and the United States.
- The overall crime rate is 23 percent higher than the remainder of Arizona and 53 percent higher than the national average.
- There are 11.49 daily crimes for every 100,000 people.
- Though the rate of different types of crime fluctuate from year to year, the total amount of crime has not changed.
This online resource provides a directory of trusted therapists and mental health counselors, along with information regarding additional guides and support.