An Overview of Mental Health in Renton, Washington
King County in Washington state is home to Renton, a city of approximately 101,400 people. It is a suburb of Seattle, the largest city in the state as well as in the Pacific Northwest. Technology, manufacturing and aerospace are some of the area’s biggest industries, with Boeing being Renton’s largest employer.
The city of Renton had an unemployment rate of 3.7% in 2015, lower than the state’s rate of 4.8%. In 2016, it also had a median income of $66,000.
Mental Health in Renton
While Renton is doing well from an economic and employment standpoint, these statistics don’t reflect a major problem with mental health care in the area.
- According to Mental Health America, Washington ranks in the top ten states with a high prevalence of mental illness.
- A 2012 report stated that suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in Seattle with a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people. This is slightly higher than King County’s overall rate of 10.8, but still lower than the state’s rate of 13 per 100,000.
However, suicide is not the only cause of death relating to mental illness. Addiction appears to be a particularly problematic mental illness. Between 2012 and 2014, there were 843 overdose deaths in King County alone.
Mental Illness Risk Factors
Why is Washington struggling with these issues? Every region is different, but some factors local to Renton and nearby Seattle may help explain the area’s individual struggles with mental health and its care, and how these contribute to the state’s overall poor numbers.
Unfortunately, mental illness is not the only crisis facing the Seattle area. King County has the highest homeless rate per capita than even New York City or Los Angeles. A January 2018 count reported that over 12,000 people in Seattle and King County were homeless.
A report from the city of Seattle stated that addiction is a large contributor to the problem. Opiates appear to be a particular issue, as the report claims that treatment for heroin addiction is more common than that for alcohol. It also stated that drug overdose is the most common cause of death amongst the homeless population.
Minorities & Foreign-Born Residents
It is well-documented that minorities are generally most likely to suffer from the effects of poverty, homelessness and other situations that often go hand-in-hand with mental illness. Individuals of Asian descent account for almost one fourth of Renton’s population, followed by approximately 12% Hispanic and almost 11% black.
Renton also has a very high percentage of residents who were born abroad. As of 2016, that percentage was over 28%. The Census Bureau also found in 2016 that almost 36% of individuals spoke a language other than English at home. It is possible that a language barrier can contribute to insufficient health care.
Although the legitimacy of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as an actual form of mental illness is up for debate, there is evidence that lack of sunlight and longer nights can illicit at least mild “blues” for many people due to the disruption of the body’s normal circadian rhythm. Seattle experiences only 152 sunny days per year on average, versus the national average of 205 sunny days. With that being said, it doesn’t seem like a far cry to suggest that poor weather may have some impact on the area’s mental health.
Resources in Renton, Washington
Despite the crises regarding mental health and homelessness in the area, there is still a variety of resources available in Renton to those who need them.
- Valley Cities Behavioral Health has multiple locations in King County, including Renton. The organization provides services for mental health care as well as resources for the homeless.
- Optimum Mental Health Services is another facility in Renton providing treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses.
- Cascade Behavioral Health, just outside of Renton, offers a variety of programs, notably multiple detox programs and rehabilitation for addiction.
E-Counseling is an online directory of mental health professionals, with the aim of helping you find a therapist who can assist you in reaching your personal goals. Mental illness can be a challenge, but you don’t have to face it alone. There is help available, and you can take the first step toward healing today.