An Overview of Mental Health in Johnson City, Tennessee
Johnson City, Tennessee, is a little oasis known for its tree-lined streets, nature trails, mastodon fossils and sweeping views. City residents and council members alike pride themselves on the area’s natural beauty and abundant resources. According to the city’s website, the community thrives because of the 60,000+ residents’ active engagement and contributions to task-forces, public school boards, outreach programs and action committees. If you were to ask the residents of Johnson City where the best place to live in all of Tennessee is, there’s a good chance the majority would tell you JC. However, though residents love the small suburb, the area is not immune to mental illness.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Johnson City is home to approximately 66,391 residents. The median age of those residents is 35.9. 15 percent of residents are over the age of 65, while nearly a quarter are under the age of 18. 85 percent of residents are white, while the remainder of the population is made up of African Americans, Asians and Hispanics. A small percentage are Native American.
The median household income in Johnson City is a low $39,143, which is nearly $20,000 less than the national median and almost $10,000 less than the state median. However, the per capita income is $29,115, which is only slightly lower than the nation’s and slightly higher than the state’s. This indicates that many households contain one working member. 22.3 percent of residents live in poverty. That is nearly twice the United States’ poverty rate and more than seven percent higher than Tennessee’s.
According to AreaVibes, the cost of living in Johnson City is not low by any means, despite its lack of income. It scored a 93 cost of living score, whereas Tennessee scored a 90. The median home price in the area is $159,700. Assuming that the average couple brings in the city’s median salary of just over $39,000, has monthly debt obligations of about $300 (the average car payment) and has a down payment of $10,000, the average couple cannot afford a home in Johnson City.
Total crime rates in Johnson City are higher than the state’s or nation’s crime rates. Though the rates were lower in almost all areas, Johnson City scored significantly higher in terms of theft and property crimes. Because of this, AreaVibes gave it a crime score of D-.
Approximately one-third of residents in Sullivan County, one of the three counties in which Johnson City sits, are obese. The rates are slightly higher in the other two counties.
Excessive drinking rates in the three counties are 11.3, 12.9 and 11.4 percent. Adult smoking rates range between 20 and 25 percent in all three counties.
How These Factors May Contribute to Mental Illness
Mental health concerns are on the rise throughout the nation, and Johnson City is no exception. U.S. Republican Diane Black addressed this concern at a campaign stop she made in Johnson City in June of 2018. According to Black, mental health is a very real concern both in the general populations and in the schools. She also voiced her concerns that if left unchecked, those mental health concerns would lead to darkness. What Black did not address was the WHY behind these concerns. The above information may shed some light on the matter. Below are a few factors, which are present in Johnson City, that are commonly associated with mental illness:
- Poverty: Adults who live in poverty have an increased risk of mental health problems and substance abuse.
- Cost of Living: The above-average cost of living may perpetuate poverty and lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and diminished self-worth.
- Crime: According to researchers, fear of crime creates a barrier between a person and his or her involvement in activities that may otherwise benefit his or her physical or mental health.
- Obesity: Obesity presents as a heightened risk factor for those with mental illness. Studies have found that a disparate number of patients with mental health disorders are overweight, compared with the general population.
- Excessive Drinking: Excessive alcohol consumption causes anxiety and depressive disorders and aggression.
Getting to the Root of Mental Illness
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