An Overview of Mental Health in La Mesa, California
La Mesa, California is a suburb of San Diego centrally located in San Diego County. The city is the Jewel of the Hills. With an almost perfect climate, fun trolleys and public stairways, citizens enjoy walking the tree-lined streets. A quaint downtown village of commercial shops and restaurants makes La Mesa one of San Diego’s top-ten suburbs.
The Spanish name, La Mesa, refers to a plateau; however, along with the other towns and cities in the San Diego area, mental health services have fallen below previous plateaus. La Mesa has recently mounted an aggressive program to reduce obesity in its community. Its proximity to the city of San Diego may provide some of La Mesa’s mental health care needs for those who have insurance.
La Mesa Demographics
La Mesa’s population is 60,021 and represents the ethnic diversity found in California. The largest racial percentage is White at 75.5 percent, followed by Hispanic at 10.9 percent, Black at 9.0 percent, Asian at 7.8 percent, and Mixed at 6.4 percent. Those who identify as Other were at 1.3 percent. About 76.0 percent of La Mesa residents speak English, while 1.43 percent speak Spanish, following by Asian languages at 4.5 percent, Indo-European languages at 4.0 percent and Mixed at 1.2 percent.
Native Americans represent the largest number of divorced and separated individuals at respectively 22.3 percent and 8.4 percent. Those with the least number of divorced individuals are Hawaiian at 6.0 percent. The poverty rate in La Mesa overall is 12.63 percent.
Challenges in Acquiring Psychiatric Treatment Facilities
San Diego County received a large influx of Medi-Cal patients when the Affordable Care Act added mental care as a mandatory insurance rider. Although increasing mental health service access is laudable, the reality is a shortage of psychiatric long-term treatment facility placement that has increased with the new demand. Providers are also in short supply.
Two mental health facilities closed, adding to the shortage of beds. State law does not allow psychiatric hospitals to bill Medi-Cal directly for charges; thus, the incentive to build psychiatric hospitals has been low. Medicaid has moved to allow stand-alone psychiatric hospitals to receive direct reimbursements. Medi-Cal is the same as Medicaid; California uses a different name for the program. People on Medi-Cal who need long-term mental health treatment should see improvements coming soon in access to psychiatric beds.
Senior Mental Health Issues
As the population ages, older adults live alone. They may develop mental conditions needing treatment because of loneliness, death of a spouse, and paranoia or exacerbation of a pre-existing mental condition as they struggle to deal by themselves with poverty, physical deconditioning, disease processes and the inability to access help.
People in the community want to assist desperate elders, but family members or neighbors can feel overwhelmed. They do not have the qualifications to offer the type of help needed by these fragile elders.
San Diego County’s Health & Human Services Agency is addressing issues for seniors who need specialized mental health care. The agency created a Senior Mental Health Team for people 60 years of age or older who need crisis assessment for mental health problems.
For those who are concerned about an isolated family member or neighbor, social workers and nurses on the Senior Mental Health Team create a care plan to keep a vulnerable elder safe and allow the person to remain independent. The team provides education to seniors and those who are interested in helping.
The team preserves confidentiality for clients and those who contact them about people of concern. Indications that an older person may need help include:
- Depression or anxiety, including panic states
- Wishing to die or making a suicide plan
- Substance abuse through prescription medication or alcohol
- Marked change in behavior
- Inability to function at daily tasks
- Wandering away from home and needing help to find the way back
- Expressing fearful thoughts or seeing things/hearing noises that are not thee
- Rapid onset of memory loss and confusion
- Changes in speech (unrecognizable) from mental or physical illness
- Bruises or other signs of frequent falls
Access to Mental Health Service is Available
Successful treatment of long-term mental illness is possible. E-Counseling’s directory can help citizens in La Mesa, California find services that can help them reach their peak plateau of mental health.