An Overview of Mental Health in New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford is a small, quiet, seaside town just a short drive from Boston and Cape Cod. The city is known for its rich history. You can still visit Civil War-era Fort Taber or follow Herman Melville’s tracks (the Moby Dick author once called the city home). “The Whaling City” may no longer be the active whaling port it once was, but it still offers cheap and serene surroundings from Buzzards Bay to Buttonwood Park.
In recent years, however, the city has taken on a rougher reputation, which makes addressing mental health in the area even more urgent. Some of the challenges New Bedford is facing are listed below.
- Poverty: The median household income in New Bedford is $38,178, far below the state and national levels. While numerous factors influence the effect that poverty has on mental health, evidence suggests a strong causal relationship. This means that the 5% of New Bedford’s residents living in poverty – a rate that is higher than that of the state or country – are likely to face unique mental health challenges.
- Suicide: The suicide rate in Bristol County has been rising in recent years. While organizations such as NAMI Bristol County and the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition are working to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health services, if you need immediate help, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Chronic Illness: Bristol County has a high rate of diabetes prevalence as well as HIV/AIDS diagnoses as compared to the rest of the state. The Southcoast also has higher rates of cancer than state levels. Living with chronic or terminal illness can affect mental wellbeing.
- Integration: Portuguese speakers make up a significant part of the 1% of Bedford residents who speak a language other than English. Cultural diversity is wonderful but living in your non-native country can come with difficulties.
- Substance Abuse and Addiction: Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country. Addiction affects not just the addict, but also their family and friends. It’s important for everyone affected by the opioid epidemic or any form of addiction to seek mental health treatment.
- Crime: New Bedford is the fifth most dangerous city in Massachusetts. If you’ve been the victim of a crime, part of your recovery should include mental health services to help you cope with post-traumatic stress (PTS), anger, fear and other emotions.
Mental Health Resources in New Bedford
Massachusetts is ranked relatively highly within the US in terms of providing access to mental health services. If you’re a New Bedford resident who is seeking help, you can choose from licensed clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors, certified alcohol and drug abuse counselors and registered expressive arts therapists.
These counselors have experience helping clients with stress, anxiety, trauma and abuse, depression, addiction, relationship issues, family conflicts, grief, anger management, bipolar, OCD, ADHD, chronic illness and more. Depending on your preference, you can choose from cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, strengths-based therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, arts therapy, ethnic discovery methods and motivational interviewing. Counselors are available in a variety of settings including group homes, psychiatric and local community hospitals, educational settings, in-patient and out-patient addiction treatment, online, email and instant chat.
The Challenge of Finding a Suitable Therapist in New Bedford
Although the state is known for having strong access to health care, state-wide ranking may hide underlying difficulties at the city-level. With a high rate of poverty, many New Bedford residents may find it difficult to access mental health services. The priority is often on getting food on the table, rather than caring for your mental health. There is also a stigma associated with seeking help, but remember mental illness and addiction are real conditions that deserve the support of a therapist.
You can check with local non-profits or community organizations to see if they offer free support groups or sliding scale services. Some alternative forms of therapy such as phone or text support may be cheaper options to consider as well.
Find a Therapist in New Bedford
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and even scared during the process of asking for help. E-Counseling helps make this process easier. Their broad directory contains listings of therapists and counselors in your area, along with helpful information such as their background, treatment style and specialties. There is no shame in reaching out. You deserve to live a healthier and more fulfilled life.