An Overview of Mental Health in Lakewood, California
Lakewood, California is a classic example of a post-World War II American suburb. In 1950, it was a field of lima beans, but by 1960 it was a well-developed city located in Los Angeles County. The estimated population is 81,054.
Lakewood is a prosperous city with a median household income of $82,175, more than the median income of Los Angeles County ($52,952), the state of California ($63,783), and the United States ($55,322).
Demographically, the population of Lakewood is made up primarily of people identifying as Hispanic (33.8 percent), white (31.5 percent), and Asian (21.8 percent). Lakewood is considered one of the most racially diverse cities with a population over 50,000 in the entire United States.
Approximately 34 percent of Lakewood citizens speak a primary language other than English. Apart from Spanish, the most common foreign languages spoken in Lakewood are Asian languages. Los Angeles County, where Lakewood is located, has a significant Cambodian population as people who came here from Cambodia as refugees in the 1970s were sponsored by Cambodian former students already present in California due to an educational exchange program that had existed in the 1950s and early 1960s between the state and the Southeast Asian nation.
Mental Health in Los Angeles County
It is difficult to find mental health statistics specifically pertaining to Lakewood. Most available statistics reflect mental health status in Los Angeles County as a whole or in the nearby community of Long Beach, also located in Los Angeles County. Nevertheless, the statistics on mental health indicators in Los Angeles County as a whole are somewhat troubling, especially compared with those across California.
According to a 2014 mental health survey conducted by UCLA, 18 percent of adults in Los Angeles County needed help for mental-emotional and/or alcohol-drug issues in the preceding year, compared with 15.9 percent of adults in California generally. Of those who sought and/or needed help in Los Angeles County, however, 43.2 percent did not receive it. The same survey indicated that the percentage of California adults who had likely had serious psychological distress in during the preceding year was 7.7 percent; it was higher in Los Angeles County at 9.6 percent.
Though still troubling, the statistics on mental health indicators for teens in Los Angeles County were slightly better than those for California as a whole. The percentage of teens who needed help for emotional/mental problems statewide was 23.2 percent, slightly higher than the percentage in Los Angeles County at 22.4 percent. More teens received psychological/emotional counseling during the preceding year in Los Angeles County ( 14.5 percent) than in California at large (11.6 percent), even though the percentage of teens who needed help were virtually equal.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Lakewood, California
Extrapolating from the data available for Los Angeles County and nearby Long Beach, one can form an approximate picture of the specific mental health issues facing Lakewood, California residents.
- Risky Behaviors: Los Angeles County had some of the highest diagnosis rates of chlamydia and HIV in the entire state of California.
- Veterans: Those who served in the military are more at risk for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. During 2013 to 2017, there were 3,525 veterans living in Lakewood, the highest percentage of them having served in Vietnam.
- Violent Crime: With 423.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, Los Angeles County has a moderate to moderately low rate of violent crime compared to the rest of California. Due to the diversity in the area, some of these crimes may have been racially motivated.
- Culture: Many of the refugees who fled Cambodia in the 1970s and settled in Los Angeles County were escaping from an oppressive government regime. For this reason, members of the older Cambodian population may be reluctant to seek help from institutions (governmental or otherwise) despite a history of trauma.
Challenges of Finding a Therapist in Lakewood, California
As noted above, there is great cultural diversity in Lakewood, and many residents do not speak English as a primary language. For those residents of Lakewood who speak a language other than English, finding a therapist fluent in a second language may prove particularly challenging.