An Overview of Mental Health in Reading, Pennsylvania
Reading, Pennsylvania is located in the state’s southwestern region. Situated about an hour’s drive from metropolitan Philadelphia, the city’s population of 88,423 ranks fifth largest in the Keystone State. Historically, the area achieved city status in 1847 and was known for its coal and textile industries. Currently, residents have access to the rich history of the region preserved in local museums. The town is also home to the Pagoda, a historical landmark and tourist attraction atop of Mt. Penn.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.3 percent of adults in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness. However, only 43 percent of those people seek treatment. Unfortunately, Reading residents are not immune from economic, social and other factors that can threaten emotional well-being.
Condition of Mental Health in Pennsylvania
The non-profit agency Mental Health America looks at data on prevalence of disorders and availability of psychological services across the nation. Overall, Pennsylvania falls 14 out of 51 in the rankings. Specifically, in terms of prevalence the state is ranked 15 out of 51 with a similar rating of 13 out of 51 based on access to care.
Since 2005 the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Administration, part of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, has been committed to a recovery-oriented system for emotional health. This initiative is supported by the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.
Family Structure in Reading, Pennsylvania
A close group of family and friends can buffer the impacts of stress and promote positive well-being. However, the opposite is true as well. Overall, Reading has a relatively young population with the median age of 29 years compared to the age of 40.6 years in Pennsylvania and the national average of 37.7 years. Considering age, it makes sense that only 35 percent are married compared to both the state and the nation (56 and 55 percent respectively).
The concerning statistic is the 13 percent divorce rate in Reading, which is shocking considering the state of Pennsylvania has one of the lowest rates in the nation at 6.59 percent. In Reading, an additional 5.1 percent are separated and 4.3 percent are widowed. Death of a spouse, divorce and marital separation are the top three most stressful life events for adults according to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. The more stressful events that occur, the likelier a person is to have failing health. Marriage counseling and therapeutic intervention for grief and loss are crucial to maintain both physical and mental well-being.
Economic Factors in Reading
The people of Reading benefit from a low cost of living. With the national index set at 100, residents enjoy an index of 86, which is 14 percent lower than the nation and 13 percent lower than the average in Pennsylvania. The biggest impact related to prices is the housing market. The median house cost in Reading is $68,400, 63 percent cheaper than the average US home expense of $184,700.
However, there is an economic downside. Reading has a higher than average unemployment rate of 11.6 percent compared to the national average of 4.7 percent. The median household income of $27,247 is also significantly lower than Pennsylvania ($52,895) and the nation ($55,322). Consequently, 39 percent of the population live at the poverty level, which is 160 percent higher than the US average of 15.1 percent. Struggles with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter can cause a significant amount of anxiety and stress.
Reading Crime Statistics
The overall crime rate in Reading is 14 percent higher than the national average and 59 percent higher than the state. The most concerning aspect is the level of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and assault. In Reading there are 713 violent crimes per 100,000 people, significantly higher than both the state (313) and the nation (383). Victims of violent crimes often suffer emotional distress that responds to therapeutic care.
Challenges of Finding a Therapist in Reading, Pennsylvania
Residents of Reading have access to local therapists, however, barriers may exist to accessing quality mental health care. Some people may be embarrassed to seek help, perceive counseling as unaffordable or don’t know where to begin finding the help they need.