An Overview of Mental Health in Hoover, Alabama
With 84,100 residents, Hoover, Alabama, is the 405th largest city in the United States. Located in Jefferson County, Hoover has a population density of 1,786 residents per square mile, which is 1,871 percent higher than the national population density average.
Hoover’s vast population is surprisingly diverse. Though 88 percent of the population are English speaking, nine percent of Hoover residents are foreign born, five percent speak Spanish and 34 percent were born outside of the state. 70.2 percent of Hoover residents are white, 17.1 percent are black, nearly six percent are Hispanic and approximately five percent are Asian.
In addition to being diverse, Hoover also happens to be a fairly flourishing city. The median household income is $78,056, which is significantly higher than the U.S. average of $55,322. The homeownership rate in the city is 68.1 percent, which is slightly higher than the national average of 64.3 percent. The median property value is $268,100 and the average household owns two vehicles. Hoover’s poverty rate is 6.08 percent, which is significantly lower than the national poverty rate.
All in all, the numbers for Hoover look good. However, demographics don’t always paint a complete or fair picture of a place. Beneath Hoover’s shiny exterior, it too faces the same challenges that many cities and small towns across the U.S. experience, one of which is mental health.
Mental Health Concerns in Alabama
Of Alabama’s nearly 4.8 million residents, approximately 4.1 percent of adults live with serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe depression. Of those adults living with a diagnosed mental disorder, only 43.5 percent receive any form of treatment. In terms of accessibility of mental health services, Alabama ranks number 46 out of all 50 states and Washington D.C., with number 50 being the worst.
Opioid use is relatively low in Alabama compared to other states. However, the opioid overdose death rate of 7.5 per 100,000 individuals is still higher than the national rate of 6.2 for men and 4.3 for women. Outside of opioid abuse, substance abuse ranks as the second biggest health concern for Alabamians.
Suicide is another major concern for the state. Every state but one (Nevada) has seen a sharp increase in the number of suicides between 1999 and 2016. Alabama’s suicide rate grew by 21.9 percent in that 17-year span. In many counties throughout the state, suicide rates increased by more than 30 percent in individuals 10 years and older.
Mental Illness Risk Factors in Hoover
If Hoover’s median household income is significantly higher than the national rate, and its poverty rate is relatively lower, then poverty—which is usually the greatest risk factor for mental illness—can be ruled out as a major contributing factor to the area’s mental health concern. However, that doesn’t mean that the area is without risk factors. Some plausible reasons for Hoover’s high mental illness rates are as follows:
- Weather: Because it is located in the heart of Tornado Alley, Hoover and its residents are no stranger to the loss and devastation that severe storms can bring. The destruction and death caused by tornados can cause depression and financial distress, while the anticipation of a tornado may cause anxiety.
- High Population Density: Studies show that risk factors for major mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders and psychotic disorders are higher in cities and areas with high population density.
- Veterans: A large percentage of Military veterans call Hoover home. Hoover has a greater share of WWII, Korean War and post-2000 Gulf War vets than the United States as a whole. It also has a large share of Vietnam vets. Military veterans are known to exhibit several mental health concerns including PTSD, depression, anxiety, aggression and others.
- Minorites: Hoover’s minority population is fairly large, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all residents. Poverty levels are typically highest amongst minority populations.
- Risky Behaviors: 1 percent of Jefferson County residents drink excessively, and 19.4 percent smoke regularly. Both these behaviors lead to depression, anxiety, obesity, cancer and other long-term health concerns.
The Mental Health Crisis in Alabama
As mentioned in an earlier section, Alabama ranks as one of the top five worst states for mental health care. The community mental health centers that do still exist are starved for funding and the state has refused to extend Expanded Medicaid to those in need. Additionally, Alabama has closed more hospital beds for emotionally unwell individuals, leaving them and their families in crisis.
Fortunately, there’s E-Counseling. The site’s easy to use directory is designed to match unwell individuals with a therapist who fits their needs and who can help them reach their goals. If you are in need of mental health counseling, refer to the directory today.