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An Overview of Mental Health in Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach, California, is located in Los Angeles County along the southern portion of Santa Monica Bay, one of three adjacent beach cities. The other two are Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. As of 2016, Redondo Beach had a population of 67,664 and showing a decline of only 0.05 percent from 2015.
Socioeconomic Profile of Redondo Beach
Redondo Beach is a beautiful city, and on the surface, it certainly seems to be healthy and prosperous. The poverty rate is exceptionally low at 4.98 percent, and the median annual household income is $103,782 per year, much more than the median for California ($63,783) and nearly twice that of the United States as a whole ($55,322). However, the per capita income from 2013 to 2017 was only $56,447, suggesting a significantly uneven distribution of wealth.
Demographically, the population of Redondo Beach is predominantly Caucasian at 61.8 percent. The Hispanic/Latino community makes up 17.1 percent of the population. Three percent identify as black or African American, while 6.5 percent identify as two or more races.
Mental Health Statistics in Redondo Beach
In its 2013 health assessment for Los Angeles County, Kaiser Permanente found that 13.1 percent of the South Bay service area lived in a health professional shortage area, only slightly lower than the percentage for the entire state of California at 13.8 percent. The study found that transportation, cost, and language all proved to be barriers preventing adults in need from accessing mental health services.
For these reasons, Kaiser identified mental health as its third-highest priority in Los Angeles County.
For its purposes, Kaiser divided Los Angeles County into Service Planning Areas, or SPAs. In SPA 8, where Redondo Beach is located, only 5.2 percent of teens received emotional/psychological counseling in the preceding year, although 15.5 percent of teens reportedly needed it. The statistics for adults were arguably even more troubling; of the 13.5 percent of adults in SPA 8 who needed help for mental health issues, including abuse of drugs or alcohol and emotional problems, 44.4 percent of those who sought/needed help did not receive it as of 2013.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Redondo Beach
A number of specific factors contribute to the mental health status of Redondo Beach residents.
- Alcohol Abuse: As of 2013, 29.3 percent of adults in Redondo Beach reported engaging in binge drinking, i.e., four or more drinks per occasion in females and five or more drinks per occasion for males, in the preceding year. However, as of 2016, that number seems to have declined to 18.5 percent, although it should be noted that that figure is for all of Los Angeles County.
- Homelessness: There were 6,788 homeless individuals living in Redondo Beach in 2013. Of the city’s homeless population, 41 percent had a substance abuse problem and 15 percent had some form of mental illness.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases: In 2016, Los Angeles County showed high numbers of chlamydia and HIV diagnoses; 547.9 per 100,000 people for the former and 556.4 for the latter. Rates of HIV infection show disparities by race and/or ethnicity. For example, African Americans account for most new HIV infections despite making up a relatively small segment of the population. In addition to the stress caused by such a diagnosis, HIV has the potential to affect a person’s brain function and contribute to mental health issues.
- Violent Crime: Rates of homicides and other violent crimes are moderate in Los Angeles County: 6.1 per 100,000 people for the former and 423.8 per 100,000 for the latter. Survivors of violent crime, be they victims or family members, are likely to exhibit symptoms of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Divorce: The divorce rate for the South Bay area as a whole is 12.27 percent, approximately on par with the statistics for the nation as a whole.
Proactive Intervention, Positive Results
California’s Mental Health Services Act of 2004 created a special tax in order to fund expansion of mental health services all over the state. Individual counties decided how the money was to be spent, and Los Angeles County chose to invest largely in prevention and early intervention services for adults, children, and “transition-age youth” from diverse and vulnerable populations. In the intervening 15 years, these programs have resulted in decreased detention in the justice system, decreased numbers of psychiatric hospitalizations, and less homelessness.