An Overview of Mental Health in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles, Louisiana, enjoys a prime location in the southwestern part of the state just off Interstate 10 between Houston, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Visitors and residents alike enjoy beautiful beaches along the Calcasieu River, and a deep-water shipping channel connects Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico. The City of Lake Charles also serves as the seat of Calcasieu Parish.
As of July 1, 2017, the United States Census Bureau estimated the Lake Charles was home to 77,117 residents. The population is 48.5 percent African American and 45.8 percent White. The remaining percentage is made up of other groups constituting less than 5 percent of residents each.
Community Health Assessment of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles is the home of Lake Charles Memorial Health System (LCMHS). For more than 60 years, LCMHS has provided health services to the community as a nonprofit entity. In September of 2016, the organization published the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) Report. Part of the project was developing a priority list of the most pressing health issues facing the community. Access to care and behavioral health, including mental health and substance abuse services, emerged as numbers 1 and 2 on the list.
Economic Barriers to Care in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Access to care includes the needs of the uninsured, underinsured, and low-income population, but it also covers the difficulties in getting access to primary care providers and specialists. The percentage of uninsured residents of Calcasieu Parish is 16.4 percent. This lack of coverage is the single largest barrier that keeps individuals from getting the healthcare services they need.
The underinsured population may have some coverage, but these individuals still face high deductibles, copays, and other out of pocket expenses that may it difficult to pay for the care they need. With 33.4 percent of children in Lake Charles living at or below the federal poverty line and an unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, the city faces significant economic barriers to mental health care.
Barriers to Mental Health Services in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Economic factors aside, residents of Lake Charles face other obstacles in accessing behavioral and mental health care.
- Approximately 18 percent of the residents of Calcasieu Parish report feeling a lack of social and/or emotional support systems to maintain a healthy mental state.
- The Parish has 58.5 mental health providers per 100,000 individuals in the population. This is lower than both the state (77.6) and the national average (134.1). The definition of provider in this case includes psychiatrists, clinical social workers, psychologists, and specialized counselors.
- Though 17.6 percent of survey respondents stated they had been diagnosed with a mental health condition, experts agree that the actual figure is probably much higher. Individuals are often reluctant to disclose such information, and many more suffer without an official diagnosis. Of those who did report a diagnosis, the most common were panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety disorders. Clinical depression and bipolar disorder also appeared frequently.
- Of those Parish residents who were able to access care from a mental health professional, only 35.3 percent saw a counselor or similarly licensed professional. Primary care physicians (23.5 percent) and emergency rooms (23.5 percent) provides care to the other respondents.
- When asked whether they suffer from a mental or emotional condition that significantly limits activities of daily living, 22 percent responded in the affirmative.
- Community leaders described mental health difficulties as a significant issue facing the community. They point to the fact that residents often have to travel long distances to get the help they need, given the shortage of providers, especially for long-term conditions.
Finding Help in Lake Charles, Louisiana
If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain stable mental health, you may need help identifying a professional you’re comfortable working with. E-Counseling can help through their online directory. You’ll find a list of professionals in Lake Charles, along with their credentials and any specialties such as marriage, adolescents, trauma, and more. You’ll also see a photo of the provider and read a personal statement written by that professional to give you an idea of how her or she approaches the therapeutic relationship. All of this information taken together can help you find the professional that matches your personal preferences.