An Overview of Mental Health in Harrisonburg, Virginia
The city of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was incorporated in 1780 and named the county seat of Rockingham County at that time. In 1916, it officially became an independent city. Though now separate from Rockingham County, it still remains the county seat. Harrisonburg and the county that it serves are located in the northern part of the state in the valley of the Shenandoah River.
Harrisonburg had a population of 48,900 as of the 2010 census. As of 2018, it has grown by an estimated 10.5% to a population of approximately 54,000 people.
Demographics of Harrisonburg, Virginia
Nicknamed “The Friendly City,” in recent years Harrisonburg has become a bastion of linguistic and ethnic diversity. It is the home to Rosetta Stone, a company founded there in 1992 that produces popular language learning software. Students of Harrisonburg Public Schools speak 55 languages, including Arabic, Kurdish, and Spanish, in addition to English. ESL learners make up approximately one-third of public school students of Harrisonburg City Public Schools.
Since 2002, Harrisonburg has been home to over 1,900 refugees. Approximately 19% of the population identifies as Latino, 7.4% identify as African American, 5.8% identify as two or more races, and approximately 67% identify as white alone.
Challenges of Finding a Mental Health Professional in Harrisonburg
In 2016, the most recent year for which there is information available, the percentage of adults with serious mental illness in Virginia was moderately high at 4.6%. The percentage of adults who had had a major depressive episode was even higher at 7.94%.
Annual community health needs assessments consistently identify both substance abuse and mental health as important health problems in the area. However, when it comes to mental health services, the Health Resources and Services Administration has designated the region of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County as a Health Professional Shortage Area. The ratio of patients to mental health professionals is 684 to one.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Harrisonburg
The people of Harrisonburg face a number of challenges that can negatively affect their mental health.
The poverty rate in Harrisonburg is 29%, more than twice the national rate of 11.8%. The median household income is $43,009, lower than the national median of $57,652 and significantly lower than the median for Virginia, which is $68,766.
In 2015, 28% of households in Virginia qualified as ALICE, that is, Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed. In other words, these households did not have adequate income to cover a basic household budget despite income above the Federal Poverty Level. The prevalence of food insecurity in Harrisonburg is 16.4%, twice what it is in surrounding Rockingham County.
Divorce rates in the Shenandoah Valley are generally high, and Harrisonburg is no exception. Though statistics were not available for Harrisonburg specifically, the number of divorces in Rockingham County was almost equal to the number of marriages in 2008.
A moderate percentage (7.38%) of adults and adolescents age 12 or older have a substance use disorder. In 2016, there were approximately 17 deaths due to drug overdose per 100,000 people. The prevalence of excessive drinking in Harrisonburg was 18.8%, which is moderate to moderately high.
Health and Safety
Harrisonburg sees a moderate number of new sexually transmitted disease diagnoses every year, 591 per 100,000. Compared with Rockingham County, there are over twice as many incidents of violent crime, 209 per 100,000 people. More people in Harrisonburg experience a stroke than elsewhere in Virginia or the United States as a whole. Obesity rates are comparable with state and national averages, as is the incidence of diabetes and various blood and urogenital disorders.
These factors are not mutually exclusive and may overlap with one another. For example, in 2016, 13.4% of adults had not seen a doctor in the preceding 12 months due to the cost involved.
Mental Health Resources in Harrisonburg
In the event of a mental health emergency, it is always appropriate to call 911. The following resources are also available in the event of a mental health crisis:
Find Assistance in the Friendly City
Help is available to those who need it in Harrisonburg, as well as Rockingham County. Take advantage of the available resources.