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An Overview of Mental Health in Malden, Massachusetts
Across America, every state is facing issues regarding mental illness and the treatment of it. Many states are facing an overwhelming prevalence of mental illness, while others are struggling to provide the appropriate treatment options due to a shortage of mental health professionals. Massachusetts is one state with a high prevalence of mental health problems. According to Mental Health America, Massachusetts ranks just under the top 10 highest at number 39. However, Massachusetts has stepped up to tackle this problem. While having such a high prevalence rating, the state also ranks at number 1 in the nation in terms of access to mental health care, and at number 3 in terms of its overall state of mental health.
Of course, every region has its own issues, including different contributors and factors that relate to the mental health of that area. State data can be helpful, but it’s important to examine information at a more local level to understand what contributes to the overall state ranking. The city of Malden, Massachusetts, will be the focus of this overview.
Malden at a Glance
Malden is a part of Middlesex County, which is just north of Boston. In 2017, Malden had a population of over 61,000 people. Its economy specializes in sectors like healthcare, hospitality and tech services. The poverty rate is 15.9 percent, while the unemployment rate is 6.1 percent. The per capita income in 2017 was just under $30,000, and the median income was just over $62,000 the same year.
Mental Health in Malden
Massachusetts ranks highly compared to the rest of the nation in terms of mental health care, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The system is still lacking in areas, as highlighted in one report in the Boston Globe. The report details the stories of several Boston-area individuals with severe mental illness who seemingly slipped through the cracks of the mental health system. Despite having received help in the past, and even seeking out help again, these individuals still ended up in trouble with law enforcement and, in some cases, dead. The story illustrates that there are still many hurdles in behavioral health treatment. If a state as high-ranking as Massachusetts is still facing these kinds of issues, it just goes to show how poor mental health care is across the nation.
In 2014, Middlesex County had a low rate of suicide at 7.3 per 100,000 people. Comparatively, the highest rate in the state was Franklin County with 16.9 suicides per 100,000, while the national rate was 13 per 100,000. However, Middlesex County had the highest total number of suicides at 115. The total number of suicides statewide was 608.
Drug abuse is a significant part of the mental health crisis seen in Massachusetts and across the country. Between 2000 and 2016, the state saw nearly 14,000 opioid-related overdose deaths. The number of deaths per year climbed exponentially during that time period. Although it saw some fluctuations from year to year, the 379 overdose deaths seen in 2000 increased to a staggering 2,155 deaths in 2016.
In fact, during that same time period, Middlesex County had the highest number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the state, with a total of 2,578 deaths.
The bright side is that it appears communities like Malden are taking further steps to address behavioral health problems. In 2018, multiple projects were underway in effort to assist those suffering from mental illness.
- Middlesex County was named as a pilot site for DDJ, or Data-Driven Justice. DDJ is a program initiated by President Obama in 2016 with the objective of minimizing the number of individuals ending up incarcerated for reasons stemming from mental illness and substance abuse.
- The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office received a grant for over a quarter million dollars to implement a plan for helping inmates with mental illness and substance abuse problems re-acclimate to the community after release from prison.