An Overview of Mental Health in San Marcos, Texas
San Marcos, Texas, sits about halfway between San Antonio and Austin in Hays County in the southern half of the state. The city grew rapidly between 2000 and 2017, experiencing a growth in population of about 70 percent. As of July 1, 2017, the United States Census Bureau reported 63,071 people living in San Marcos. The majority of these residents were White alone (48.7 percent) or Latino (41.8 percent), and the average age of 23.8 years was significantly younger than that of the state as a whole (34.5 years). The majority of residents (63.9 percent) were never married, and 24.4 percent were married at that time.
In 2016, San Marcos struggled somewhat in terms of socioeconomics. The estimated median household income was $33,117, far lower than the state average of $56,565. While the cost of living was slightly less than the average for the United States at that time, 35.8 percent of the population still lived at or below the federal poverty line. These economic conditions contributed to a crime rate of 289 incidents per 100,000 in the population, which was higher than the national average of 280.5. While the unemployment level was low in San Marcos as of 2016 (8.7 percent), many people worked in lower wage service occupations and could be classified as the working poor.
Challenges in Accessing Mental Health Services in San Marcos, Texas
Difficult economic circumstances often create stressors and pressures that lead people to experience mental health challenges. Residents in San Marcos face some barriers in getting help in maintaining good mental health. Despite a low unemployment rate, 19.1 percent of the population was uninsured as of 2017, even after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Those families who did have insurance often faced high deductibles and copays, which were difficult if not impossible to pay on a lower than average household income. Coverage for mental health was often very limited, even for those who had a policy with good general medical benefits.
In addition to the economic conditions, Hays County suffers from a shortage of qualified mental health professionals. The Community Health Assessment (CHA) performed by Seton Family of Hospitals in 2016 found just 86 providers in Hays County for every 100,000 residents in the population, far below the United States average of 189. Services for children were even more limited than those for adults, and an emerging fear existed for elderly citizens facing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Another particular concern was a high rate of alcohol consumption that exceeded both state and national averages.
On the CHA, mental and behavioral health care rose to second on the list of health priorities for the county. The unmet need for mental health services placed a strain on hospitals, schools, and law enforcement as they are generally the first to come in contact with the population in need of help. Residents who participated in the CHA process expressed a desire for early intervention services and intensive outpatient care rather than waiting for a mental health crisis to bring a person to the emergency room or the jail to get treatment. The lack of substance abuse and addiction services also featured prominently in the discussion.
How to Find Help in San Marcos, Texas
If you or someone you love is in need of help maintaining stable and positive mental health, the State of Texas has designated the Scheib Center as the Local Mental Health Authority for Hays County. Scheib houses the Hays County Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, as well as services for the developmentally disabled and those seeking help for addiction, depression, and other diagnoses. The Center serves more than 3,000 clients every year. Two other primary providers serving the county are Hill Country Community MHDD Centers and Oceans Behavioral Hospital.
If you are looking for a more private way to get help, check out the online directory from E-Counseling.com. This is an anonymous way to browse the profiles of providers in private practice in San Marcos. You’ll find a list of professionals along with a description of the qualifications, experience, and any specialties. More importantly, you’ll find a statement written by the provider describing his or her approach to the therapeutic relationship to help you choose the therapist or counselor that’s right for your situation.