An Overview of Mental Health in White Plains, New York
With a population of 59,047 as of the 2017 estimate, White Plains is a suburb located north of New York City in Westchester County, of which it is the seat of government. In 2014, White Plains ranked third on a list of the top 10 best places to live in New York due to its low unemployment rate, high number of amenities, and affluence as measured by median home price (over $500,000).
White Plains is the commercial hub of Westchester County as well as the county seat. As a result, the city government estimates that the daytime population of the city, including shoppers and workers who return to their homes outside the city in the evening, is approximately 250,000, more than four times its actual population.
Life in White Plains
Despite the influx of per diem visitors to White Plains, crime rates in the city saw a consistent decline from 2002 to 2008 as it experienced a downtown renaissance that included adding more police officers to the city police force. During the intervening ten years from 2008 to now, the crime rate in White Plains has fluctuated, following no clear trend in either direction, but overall, the crime index remains low compared to the national average.
White Plains has earned its reputation as an affluent city. The median household income in White Plains is $82,460 per year, higher than the medians for the United States and the state of New York but lower than the Westchester County median of $86,226 per year. The affluence of the area results in correspondingly high home values and cost of living expenses. Taking these factors into consideration, it is perhaps not surprising that while the 11.9 poverty rate of White Plains is low, it is actually not much lower than the 12.3 percent rate for the nation as a whole.
Demographically, less than half of the population of White Plains (43.7 percent) identifies as white/Caucasian, while more than one-third (35.7 percent) identify as Hispanic/Latino. Rounding out the four most populous ethnic groups in White Plains are African Americans and Asian Americans: 12 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.
An Overview of Mental Health in White Plains
The Westchester County Department of Health identified mental health/substance abuse as one of its three major foci in its 2016-2018 community health improvement plan. As part of its study, it found that, between 2013 and 2014,10.8 percent of adults in Westchester County reported 14 or more days of poor mental health during the preceding month. Though not a significant change from assessments in previous years, the rate failed to meet the New York State Department of Health’s Prevention Agenda objective for 2018.
One of the significant indicators used to assess the mental health of a community is the rate of suicides. Between 2011 and 2013, the suicide rate in Westchester County was approximately six per 100,000 people; different sources show a discrepancy of 0.2 percent. Though this does not meet the Prevention Agenda objective, it nevertheless represents an improvement from previous assessments.
The suicide rate for White Plains specifically, however, is higher than the rate for Westchester County at 7.5 per 100,000 residents. However, this was still lower than the statewide rates.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in White Plains
Substance abuse is one of the most significant factors contributing to mental health issues in White Plains. In 2016, New York saw 18 deaths per 100,000 people statewide due to drug overdoses, of which 15.1 were related specifically to opioids. The entire state has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and Westchester County is no exception. In 2015, there were 79 total deaths due to opioid use in Westchester County, yielding a rate of 11 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Westchester County also shows a moderate prevalence of excessive drinking at about 18 percent.
Other factors contributing to mental health issues in White Plains include the following:
- Poverty: Looking at the population of people living in poverty according to race/ethnicity reveals Hispanics/Latinos are the largest ethnic group living in poverty, with whites/Caucasians are the second most populous group living in poverty. In the general population, these positions are reversed.
- Physical Health/Risky Behaviors: Out of all communicable diseased reported in Westchester County in 2014, 61 percent were sexually transmitted infections, of which chlamydia accounted for more than half.