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An Overview of Mental Health in Waterloo, Iowa
The county seat of Iowa’s Black Hawk County is Waterloo, a city with an estimated population of 67,587 as of 2017. Though it is the state’s sixth-largest city by this measure, the number has decreased slightly in recent years (from 68,406 in 2010, per United States Census Bureau data). Several other Census survey figures also stand out, reflecting both higher-than-average rates of poverty and persons lacking health insurance when compared to the rest of the country.
Waterloo also trails the national average with regard to individuals 25 years of age or older who possess a Bachelor’s degree. Collectively, these statistics may help to explain some of the notable mental health challenges that the city’s population is currently battling with.
How Financial Insufficiency Harms Mental Health
In recent years, a clear link has been established between poverty and mental illness. A November 2016 stat provided by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health estimates that nearly 10 million adults in the U.S. were dealing with some form of serious mental illness, or SMI. Of that group, approximately one-fourth also lived below the federal poverty threshold.
When examining only those individuals 26 years of age or older, the issue remained prevalent. About 7.2% of those whose incomes placed them at or above the threshold were found to display SMI symptoms in total. By comparison, this was true for about 7.5% of individuals who lived below the poverty line.
These figures are, unfortunately, relevant to the Waterloo community. 2017 Census reporting shows an estimated U.S. poverty rate of 12.3%, with a median income of $57,652 and $31,177 per capita. Comparatively, 17% of Waterloo’s population is thought to live in poverty, with median and per capita incomes of just $44,429 and $25,149 respectively.
Lower income rates can correlate with difficulty in attaining a wide range of life necessities, such as adequate housing, clothing and healthy foods. Medicines and other healthcare-related expenses can also become more difficult to cope with, which underscores the importance of possessing health insurance.
The Healthcare Dilemma
When discussing mental health, it’s crucial to focus on the availability of assistance. Waterloo faces several challenges from this standpoint, including a high number of individuals who lack any form of health coverage. Over 20% of adults from ages 18-34 are uninsured, a deficiency that also impacts nearly 15% of persons aged 35-44 and about 8% of individuals from ages 45-64. Studies support the notion that prohibitive cost is a common barrier between mental health care and those in need of such services.
Of equal concern is the relatively low number of therapists who are trained and prepared to provide assistance. This problem is decidedly widespread; the World Health Organization found that only about 125 mental health professionals were active for every 100,000 people living in the U.S. This is a distinct shortcoming when compared against the level of demand, and the problem is expected to escalate over the next half-decade, according to a September 2016 discussion paper by the National Academy of Sciences.
Waterloo’s home of Black Hawk County must contend with a slightly greater imbalance of available mental health workers—just 118 professionals per 100,000 in the population. The National Alliance on Mental Illness Iowa also sheds light on this pressing need, revealing how the closure of three different institutions has further aggravated these problems on a statewide level:
- As of publishing, the article notes that only two state beds were available for every 100,000 members of the population. The U.S. average stood at 12 beds during the same period.
- For every 100,000 state residents, the Department of Human Services counted 24 crisis beds available throughout Iowa. Advocacy groups have cited studies that call for about 40 such beds in order to adequately meet realistic demands.
- These deficiencies often result in days-long waits for prospective patients in need, as well as added strain on local law enforcement, per an American Psychiatric Association publishing.
Overcoming the Treatment Obstacles
Finding a therapist can seem extremely difficult when considering the many roadblocks that exist, but the right starting point can make all the difference. Discover caring mental health workers in and around Waterloo, Iowa with the E-Counseling directory. It’s a listing designed to simplify the search for qualified professionals—those who provide the services you need, and who work close to where you live.