An Overview of Mental Health in Whittier, California
Just 12 miles from Los Angeles, Whittier is home to just over 87,000 people inside its 14.8 square miles. This is one of the more economically stable areas with a median household income of $73,886 as of 2016, which was higher than the state median at that time by about $6,000. Estimated median real estate values in Whittier are approximately $30,000 higher than the state median. The population of the city is predominantly Hispanic (66.3 percent), followed by 25 percent Caucasian people, and 5.4 percent Asian residents. The remaining individuals are from a variety of groups each representing less than 1 percent of the population.
Another appealing aspect of living in Whittier is the crime rate of 248.9 incidents per 100,000 residents, which is lower than the national average. Only a small percentage of crimes are violent with the vast majority being offenses against property. Jobs are plentiful, and the unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is lower than the state average as well. Even the weather contributes to the pleasantness of living in Whittier. Typical for this part of California, Whittier receives much less precipitation than the rest of the United States through the spring and summer months.
However, even in this idyllic setting, people still need help dealing with mental health challenges and their overall emotional well-being. As part of Los Angeles County, Whitter was evaluated as part of the Community Health Needs Assessment published in 2016 by PIH Health Hospitals. Los Angeles County did not meet its targets in terms of mental and behavioral health when compared to the rest of the state and the Healthy People 2020 benchmarks. The same was true for substance abuse. Mental health care was one of the top three health issues, along with obesity and cardiovascular disease, found to be having a severe or very severe impact on the community.
Barriers to Mental Health Care in Whittier, California
Whittier is part of Service Planning Area 7 in the Community Health Needs Assessment. In this region, respondents indicated that mental health needs were significant.
- Of adults responding, 9.2 percent reported serious psychological distress in the last year.
- Approximately 21 percent indicated needing help for emotional and/or substance abuse issues in the past year. However, only 12.2 percent of the population actually received that type of help.
- Almost half of the responding population reported needing mental health and/or substance abuse services and being unable to access it.
- For teenagers responding to the survey, 18.9 percent reported needing help with emotional or mental health difficulties in the past year. Stress is cited as a primary cause of mental health distress among teens.
- The community includes a high percentage of foreign born and non-English speakers. This population is more susceptible to a perceived stigma associated with seeking out help with mental health difficulties.
- In spite of increasing availability of insurance coverage for behavioral and mental health services, copays and deductibles are high and benefits are limited.
Innovation in Whittier, California
As awareness has grown about these issues, the Whittier Police Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) entered into an innovative partnership. Together these two agencies create the Whittier Mental Health Evaluation Team (WMHET). Officers and mental health professionals work together to handle calls involving people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. The teams can also respond to situation that call for a social services intervention. Once the initial emergency has passed, the WMHET arranges for follow up and ongoing care. Besides leading to better outcomes for consumers, this approach has led to an improved relationship between law enforcement and the provider community.
How to Find the Help You Need in Whittier, California
If you’re looking for the help of a qualified mental health professional in Whittier, E-Counseling.com offers a directory to help you find the information you need quickly and anonymously. This comprehensive list includes each provider’s credentials, level of experience, and any specialties. You can also read a statement written by each counselor or therapist, so you can get a sense of how he or she approaches the therapeutic relationship. Consumers find this helpful in identifying someone they can work with comfortably without having to waste time on phone calls and visits that don’t help them get better.