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An Overview of Mental Health in Lawrence, Kansas
As the seat of Douglas County, Lawrence is the sixth largest city in Kansas. Located in northeast Kansas 25 miles from Topeka and 40 miles from Kansas City, Missouri, Lawrence, Kansas is a vibrant city with small-town appeal that appears on so many top ten lists, visitors could easily spot it on an imaginary “the top ten of the top ten” list of America. Citizens are proud to live in this highly rated national college town; two major universities attract a well-educated population.
The city of Lawrence provides a charming ambiance of thriving art galleries and the exciting live music scene. Rich diversity exists in downtown restaurants and shops on Washington Street and cultural events at the Warehouse Arts District. Lawrence combines city sophistication with outdoor adventures. It has over 50 parks featuring hiking and biking trails. Additional family destinations include Clinton Lake and a large sports pavilion.
Douglas County, KS is home to a population of 116,352 people, from which 95.4% are citizens. The ethnic composition of the population of Douglas County, KS is composed of 92,804 White residents (79.8%), 6,714 Hispanic residents (5.77%), 5,332 Asian residents (4.58%), 4,526 Two+ residents (3.89%), and 4,364 Black residents (3.75%).
Challenges to Mental Health Access
Like all American cities, Lawrence has its share of mentally challenged residents who cannot access the inadequate mental health system. Federal and municipal budget cuts affect public health services in states and cities across America and Lawrence is no exception.
A report published in 2017 explaining the mental health system in Kansas listed obstacles to mental health access such as service delays due to long waiting lists, unreliable or unavailable transportation, inability to pay through financial instability or lack of insurance, as well as the disconnect between service providers and those with language translation needs.
Statistics reveal some of the barriers to service to the mentally ill Kansas state population, as well as those in Douglas County and Lawrence:
- Low mental health provider ratios A statistic of 1 mental health provider per 550 Kansas residents, well over the 1:200 U.S. ratio, illustrates the problem.
- A sharp decline in psychiatric hospital services occurred as the capacity for in-patient mental health services dropped from 1000 beds to 250 by 2016.
- Language barriers arise because providers do not offer services in a diversity of languages. The most common non-English languages in Douglas County are Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Navajo and Native American languages, and Japanese.
- The high poverty rate in Douglas County stands at a total of 19.2 percent of the population with 77.2 percent among Whites, followed by 7.7 percent of Hispanics and 7.5 percent of Asians. The balance distributes among remaining races.
- Divorce can cause depression and other negative mental states. Divorce rates in Lawrence are at a moderate 7.8 percent; however, divorce counseling could lower the rate.
- Fear of deportation exists for the 6 percent of non-Americans living in Douglas County who likely avoid treatment because they lack U.S. citizenship papers.
- A high bankruptcy rate of 0.24 percent fosters stressful financial insecurity and possible anxiety in Lawrence.
Douglas County officials, deeply concerned by the lack of mental health resources, designed legislation to raise money for mental health services.
Improvements in Mental Health Services in Douglas County
In the 2018’s General Election, Douglas County put Proposition 1 before the voters to secure nearly $5 million from a sales tax increase to fund construction of a much-needed mental health behavioral campus. Voters rejected a Proposition 1 version early in 2018.
Proponents reworked the original request for a sales tax increase to support a behavioral health campus. The new Proposition 1 passed in November 2018, with over 70 percent of voters’ approval.
Mental Health Services Are Available in Lawrence, Kansas
E-Counseling is a valuable resource to help Kansas residents locate the full range of available mental health resources. The city and county directory lists mental health providers whose high professional standards and excellent certification requirements are desirable to achieve the best possible result in mental health services. For those who prefer online counseling, E-Counseling provides a range of providers and reasonable fees. Lawrence, Kansas residents deserve to lessen the burden of mental illness and enjoy their lives to the fullest.