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An Overview of Mental Health in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The 59,708 residents of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, enjoy the city’s many benefits, from its four distinct seasonal changes to the city’s storied history. Lancaster is the seat of the county of the same name and has experienced minimal growth since the 1990s. However, while most people in Lancaster live happy lives, there are residents who are experiencing poor mental health and the challenging struggles that accompany it. There are avenues to treatment, but before they can be found, understanding what may be causing or triggering these psychological issues may help those who are suffering and their families find assistance that best suits them.
Employment Problems in Lancaster
Job growth in Lancaster has created new employment opportunities for residents of Lancaster. There are a variety of different industries, both common and specialized, and they include:
- Food service
- Warehouse/storage and goods transport
Despite the minor growth in the city’s job market, many residents have to commute into nearby larger cities to find full-time work. In addition, Lancaster’s unemployment rate is three percent higher than the national average of 4.7 percent, which may be causing economical hardship for some residents and causing or increasing feelings of depression and anxiety. However, since it is unlikely that these unemployed individuals have any type of health insurance, it is unlikely that they are getting the mental health treatment they need.
Poverty and Mental Health Issues in Lancaster
Lancaster’s statistics concerning poverty are troubling and may be causing poor mental health among its residents. Nearly 30 percent of people live under the poverty line, with the greatest number being young white females. Overall, there are more females than males living with hardship in Lancaster, and this may be due to the limited job opportunities in the urban area, a lack of education or health issues. Some who live in poverty may be in their situation because of poor mental health, especially for those who inherited problems such as chronic depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Poverty and Lancaster’s climbing suicide rate may have a correlation. The number of suicides in both Pennsylvania and the surrounding counties are on the rise, and while the act of suicide may be performed in a moment of desperation, others who are living with economic hardship may commit suicide when they so no other way out of their situation. The threat of bankruptcy, mounting medical bills and other types of debt may also be factors for Lancaster residents who fall into depression and choose to take their own lives.
The Challenges of Finding Mental Health Treatment in Lancaster
Not all residents living in Lancaster may be able to find access to mental health treatment, even if they are aware they need it. While children in Lancaster are the largest group in the city to have coverage, there are currently no inpatient services in the county for minors facing mental health crises, and they must be sent elsewhere for treatment.
Elderly people living in Lancaster may also have troubled finding psychiatric care. Medicare may not cover reimbursements for therapy or other mental health services, and the cost of some treatments may be too steep for seniors living on a fixed income. This issue may be especially troublesome for older veterans living in Lancaster who may be experiencing post-traumatic disorder or other mental health issues as a result of their military experiences. If left untreated, these mental illnesses can result in a variety of negative behaviors that may include:
- incidents of self-harm
- episodes of violent behavior
- hallucinations triggered by traumatic memories
Lancaster’s relatively small size and lack of mental health treatment centers may present a problem for residents who need immediate help. While there is public transport available in the city, its routes are limited and may not travel to some of the larger mental health services located outside the area. Those without vehicles may find themselves unable to reach a therapist.