Overview of Mental Health Resources in Roanoke, Virginia
There is a high need for mental health care resources in Roanoke, Virginia. The state ranks 38th in the country for access to mental health care. Meanwhile, the rates of depression and anxiety, as well as other mental conditions, are high. Of particular concern is the high number of young people who suffer from mental illness. Of these, only a quarter are likely to seek treatment. Major depression is particularly high among the state’s youth.
The state also has a lot of work to do with supplying mental health care to its residents. Virginia only uses 52 percent of its allocated funds for mental health. New legislation has made efforts to rectify that and make treatment more accessible. There is also a significant lack of mental health professionals in the state. Virginia ranks 40th out of 50 states for the number of qualified mental health care workers. This lack is evident in rates of treatment access. In fact, Virginia ranks consistently low across the board for both mental health and care. Lawmakers have pushed for incentives to help people become therapists, doctors, and health care workers.
About 6 percent of the state’s adult population suffers from a severe form of mental illness. Almost 25 percent has recurring mental illness or problems with substance abuse. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death statewide. It is the third most common cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.
Effects of Education, Divorce, Poverty, and Other Contributing Factors
The mental health crisis among Roanoke youth may relate to the rates of substance abuse. The number of teens who abuse prescription drugs is 50 percent higher in Roanoke than the rest of the country. Anxiety levels among Roanoke youth are also high. This is one incentive to turn to illicit or prescription drugs. The area is also seeing big climbs in deaths related to cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. Substance abuse is a significant connection to mental illness and the need for mental health care.
Education rates in Roanoke are lower than the national average. Only 23 percent of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Education makes people more likely to seek care for mental illness or addiction.
Roanoke’s poverty levels are also unusually high. As of 2016, 29.3 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. However, the city’s unemployment rate was low at 2.7 percent. People living in poverty are less likely to seek mental health treatment. They are also more likely to have mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Divorce rates in Roanoke are also high. Statewide, Virginia has one of the lowest rates of divorce in the country. But Roanoke does not follow that trend. As of 2010, divorce rates in the city were at almost 17 percent, much higher than the rest of the state. Divorce makes unique mental health needs, including individual, marital, and family counseling.
Mental Health Resources in Roanoke
Though the state has struggled to keep up with the needs of residents, many new programs that aim to change that. New legislation hopes to provide better health care coverage and access to care. Roanoke is also home to a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. This program offers individual and family counseling, substance addiction treatment, and more. It also offers programs designed to educate the general public on mental illness.
The Roanoke Valley Hope Initiative provides counseling for those abusing drugs or alcohol. It offers several free programs and clinics as part of its outreach. On top of these services, there are also many private counseling centers in Roanoke.
The Challenges of Finding Mental Health Care in Roanoke
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