An Overview of Mental Health in Porterville, California
Porterville is a central California city located within the San Joaquin Valley. It is part of Tulare County, and has seen mostly steady growth since it was originally incorporated in 1902. As of 2017, its population was reported at 59,145 according to Census Survey data. This increase has occurred despite the city’s relatively modest economical position; more than one-third of individuals in Porterville were thought to be living below the poverty threshold as recently as 2016.
This situation could potentially be attributed to a wide range of factors, ranging from the direct (low rates of high school graduation and post-secondary education) to the indirect (harmful environmental conditions). Recognizing how such challenges intersect is key to understanding how they impact both the physical and mental health of those who work and live throughout this west coast city.
The Role of Education in Mental Health
It’s an unescapable reality: Porterville has a problem when it comes to education. Community survey responses indicate a number of troubling statistics that affirm this idea:
- The percentage of Porterville high school graduates (67%) lags well behind the rest of California (83%) and the U.S. overall (87%).
- Only an estimated 11% of Porterville residents possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 31% of the statewide population and 33% nationwide.
- Porterville’s high school dropout rate of 33% exceeds the rates observed throughout the state (18%) and the rest of the country (13%).
While the exact reasoning could be debated, clear connections have been established between lower levels of education and the existence of mental health issues. As the educational deficiency increased, so did the prevalence of problems; a study published in BMJ Journals suggests a more than doubled risk for high school non-graduates compared to those who have completed higher education programs.
Additionally, it is crucial to note that mental health problems don’t always stem from lack of learning; indeed, they are often the cause of such challenges for an individual. Proper training for educators and other institutional personnel is an important step in ensuring that assistance is available for those who need it.
Mental Health and Poverty in Porterville
Financial instability can play a major part in the development of mental health problems, for a variety of reasons. On the surface, poverty clearly makes it more difficult for people to secure numerous necessities, from good quality foods to safe, comfortable housing. Furthermore, impoverished segments of any population often face greater difficulty when it comes to higher education, job seeking and utilization of healthcare services.
Deeper research has shown that much of this difficulty stems from the cognitive burden that poverty tends to place on humans. Put simply, economic shortcomings cause stress. Enough stress eventually begins to interfere with a person’s ability to cope with higher-level needs, as life becomes more a matter of survival than a pursuit of happiness.
Environmental Influence on Mental Health
Although it’s not always a first consideration, the environment can play a very real part in the development or furthering of mental illness. Particulate pollution, such as smog, has been shown to correlate with heightened rates of anxiety, depression and other negative conditions. Even the mere perception of poor air quality has been found to create greater prevalence of depressive symptoms, regardless of whether or not the belief was accurate.
This information pertains directly to Porterville and the greater San Joaquin Valley, which is vulnerable to what is known as atmospheric inversion. This condition can increase the retention of harmful pollutants released by vehicles and manufacturing facilities, among other sources. Porterville’s metropolitan area is actually ranked among the very worst areas in the U.S. with respect to air quality, according to the American Lung Association.
When considering factors such as poverty, as well as the city’s lower-than-average rate of residents with health coverage, the mental health threat posed by pollution comes into much sharper focus.
Find Mental Health Assistance Porterville
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