An Overview of Mental Health Resources in Portsmouth, Virginia
Portsmouth, Virginia is a city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, located within the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. In 2010, the population was 95,527 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city of Portsmouth contains miles of gorgeous waterfront land thanks to the Elizabeth River.
History and culture are core aspects of the Portsmouth community, as evidenced by historic sites such as the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Olde Town Historic District, and Hill House. This makes it a tourist hotspot for those who want to catch a glimpse of American history.
While there are many great attributes of Portsmouth, it deals with mental health and economic challenges. For example, the poverty rate is at a disturbing 18.2 percent. This is much higher than the national poverty rate of 12.3 percent. Additionally, the significant amount of military personnel, veterans, and homeless people in the area provide mental health risk factors. It is crucial to understand the mental health issue in Portsmouth and how people can get treatment.
The prevalence of serious mental illnesses is a national problem that is felt here in Portsmouth. According to Old Dominion University, 3.9% of adults in Portsmouth suffer from a serious mental illness. That adds up to 2,842 Portsmouth individuals living with conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
There is a suicide risk in Portsmouth too. The suicide rate in the city is 6.3 percent. While this may be lower than the national rate of 13.4 percent, any rate is too high. The fact that anyone wants to take their lives in Portsmouth means that access to mental health treatment is necessary.
These problems are caused by a variety of qualities of Portsmouth and the larger Hampton Roads area. For one, there is a significant military culture in the area. There are approximately 11,545 veterans living in Portsmouth. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide than civilians. Exposure to violence and combat can increase one’s risk of PTSD and depression.
Homelessness is a major factor in Portsmouth’s mental health situation. Approximately 8.9 percent of homeless individuals in the Hampton Roads area suffer from a severe mental illness. Homelessness is a significant contributor to mental health and suicide. A shocking 45% of the U.S. homeless population has a history of mental illness.
The high rate of poverty is influential to the mental health issues in Portsmouth. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 2.5 million adults who live below the poverty line have a history of a serious mental illness.
Another factor of mental illness is the demographics of Portsmouth. The city’s population is 54.6 percent African American. Unfortunately, there are certain mental health problems that are more common or severe in African American communities. Here are some facts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health:
- African Americans are 10 percent more likely to report suffering from serious mental distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
- African Americans who live below the poverty level are three times more likely to report having psychological distress.
- The suicide rate among African American children ages 10 to 14 increased at an alarming rate of 233 percent from 1980 to 1995.
- The rate of suicide among African American men in 2014 was four times higher than among African American women.
It is vital for everyone in Portsmouth to have easy access to mental health professionals.
The Trouble of Finding a Suitable Therapist in Portsmouth, Virginia
It can be difficult for people in Portsmouth to find therapists. The U.S. as a whole falls far behind other countries when it comes to the number of mental health professionals per 100,000 people. Another issue is health coverage. Sadly, 10.2 percent of people in Portsmouth under 65 years old do not have health insurance.
Mental Health Resources in Portsmouth, Virginia
Thankfully, it is not all bad news when it comes to mental health in Portsmouth. There are 194 mental health professionals per 100,000 people in Portsmouth, which is a refreshing statistic.
E-Counseling is a wonderful resource for finding mental health professionals in Portsmouth. The site has a directory that helps people find the right therapists.