An Overview of Mental Health in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Equidistant from the major cities of Detroit and Chicago, Kalamazoo reposes in the southwest region of Michigan. It shares its name with the county of which it is the seat of government. The relatively young median resident age of 26.4, compared to 39.7 years for Michigan as a whole, may be due to the presence of higher-education institutions in the city: Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo College, and Western Michigan University. The Kalamazoo Mall, first built in 1959, is another notable feature.
The demographic make-up of Kalamazoo is predominantly white at 63.7 percent, followed by residents who identify as black at 21.1 percent. The next most populous group to consist of a single ethnicity is those who identify as Hispanic at 7 percent.
Estimated median household income for Kalamazoo in 2016 was lower than the statewide median of Michigan at $40,441 and $52,492, respectively.
An Overview of Mental Health In Kalamazoo
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, between 2012 and 2014 the percentage of adults reporting 14 or more days out of 30 of poor mental health, including emotional problems, stress, or depression, was 12 percent in Kalamazoo. This represented a 2 percent increase from 10 percent between 2011 and 2013. These numbers were similar in proportion to those reported by adults in Kalamazoo County, southwest Michigan, Michigan statewide, and the United States.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Kalamazoo
As the opioid crisis continues to loom large across the country, substance abuse is one of the primary mental health concerns in Kalamazoo. Apart from substance abuse, there are several populations within the community of Kalamazoo that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to mental health issues: youths, low-income individuals, and the black community.
Substance Abuse: Accidental drug-related overdoses killed more people in Kalamazoo County than motor vehicle accidents in 2016. Despite an overall reduction in opioid prescriptions written in Kalamazoo County of 23 percent between 2010 and 2015, the average of opioids prescribed is still higher than the national average. Accidental drug-related deaths, many involving opioids, have increased in Kalamazoo County from 2015 to 2017.
Youth: Most of the statistics available regarding mental health in Kalamazoo involve adults only, but this gives only a partial picture of the overall state. According to a local advocacy group, about 5,000 youths in Kalamazoo County have serious emotional disorders.
Race: In 2004 and 2005, Kalamazoo County conducted a Behavioral Risk Factor Survey. The telephone survey originally came from the Centers for Disease Control and asked respondents to rate their own health, both physical and mental. The rationale behind the survey is that there is a high correlation between actual health status and self-reported health status.
The county broke down the data by demographics, including race and income, and found that 19.6 percent of black respondents reported 14+ days of poor mental health during the preceding month, compared with 10.1 percent of white respondents. When considering both mental and physical health, 23.9 percent of black respondents reported that poor health limited their activities, approximately twice the number of white respondents who reported activity limitation at 11.9 percent. Overall, while only 13.6 percent of white respondents rated their general health (physical and mental) as fair to poor, 18.1 percent of black respondents did so.
Low Income: The same study indicated that poor general health also correlated with low income, and the less money respondents made per year, the more likely they were to report poor mental health. Approximately one quarter (25.1 percent) of respondents making less than $20,000 per year reported 14+ days of poor mental health in the preceding month, while 14.3 percent those making $20,000 to $34,999 per year reported the same. These percentages were significantly higher than the percentages for those making $35,000 a year or more.
Mental Health Resources in Kalamazoo
There is good news for those in Kalamazoo living with mental illness. In September 2018, the county received a $16 million dollar grant for expansion of mental health services. The award will be divided evenly among four mental health facilities in Kalamazoo County:
- Easterseals (Auburn Hills)
- Health West (Muskegon Community Mental Health Authority)
- Kalamazoo County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- West Michigan Community Mental Health Authority
Take Advantage of Available Resources
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