An Overview of Mental Health in Hanford, California
The city of Hanford in California began in 1877 when the Southern Pacific Railway crossed through a sheepherder’s small camp. Railway interests contributed to the development of the settlement, but fires damaged the growth of the town. Despite these obstacles, the town officially became the City of Hanford in 1891. Recently, in the 1980s, the city began a project to restore and rehabilitate historic structures from the small town’s start. An extension of the project called the Main Street Program seeks to revitalize the downtown. The city continues to change and grow through the years
Visitors may not see the complexity of this city: the care for the citizens versus the mental health struggles, the remembrance of history versus the struggle to keep the past alive, and the community pride versus the discord among residents. Those who visit Hanford, rather, see a thriving city with many things to do.
The make-up of the city contributes to the mental health concerns present. Around 55,000 people reside in the area, and about 50 percent of the people are Hispanic. Almost 35 percent of residents speak a language other than English. The income per capita and the median household income in Hanford are 26 percent lower and 20 percent lower than the California rates respectively. The education, crime, employment, and racial distribution of the city, along with the high cost of living and low income contribute to the health struggles that the city faces.
A few statistics regarding education show the contribution that this area of life may have on current or future mental health struggles:
- The average test scores are 35 percent. These scores are eight percent and 29 percent lower than the California and national averages respectively.
- The student teacher ratio of 22:1 in Hanford compares to 20:1 in California and 16:1 in the United States. Having more students to one teacher means less attention for each individual student.
- Only about 81 percent of students complete eighth grade.
- Just 80 percent of students complete high school.
These shocking statistics show that education is a difficult area for the residents of Hanford, contributing to the mental illnesses present.
Mental health concerns also arise when considering the crime in the city. The total crime in Hanford of 2,945 crimes per 100,000 people is seven percent higher than the national average. Unfortunately, a deeper look into the particular crimes committed shows that violent crimes contribute disproportionately to the elevated overall crime rate.
Violent crimes occur 13 percent more often than in California and 33 percent more often than in the United States. The property crime rate is just three percent higher than the national average. Additionally, Hanford is ranked in the top 101 cities with the lowest number of police officers per 1000 residents. It is also the on the list of top cities with the largest crime rating per police officer.
Poverty contributes greatly to mental health concerns. The poverty rate in Hanford is almost 20 percent, which is 30 percent higher than the national average. Connected to poverty and its negative effects, unemployment poses a mental threat to people. The unemployment rate is seven percent in Hanford, which is 53 percent higher than the national average. These two struggles are not only difficult on their own, but also stressful situations that might bring about increased vulnerability to potential mentally unhealthy thoughts and actions.
With the large Hispanic population present in Hanford, California, it is important to look into the specific mental health struggles of the given ethnicity. Consider the results of the study by Yeshiva University:
- Approximately 27 percent of Hispanics/Latinos reported high levels of depressive symptoms.
- Only five percent of the people in the study used antidepressants.
- Only 2.5 percent of the people in the study used anti-anxiety medications.
- Older people and women were more likely than younger people and men to experience symptoms of depression.
Hispanics do suffer from mental illness, and they also struggle to get the help they need. Language barriers as well as lack of insurance may contribute to the low percentage of people taking medication or seeking counseling.
E-counseling provides an online directory to help people in Hanford, California find a trusted therapist. The website also offers various mental health articles and information.