By Haadiza Ogwude
Black By God The West Virginian
Mental health is defined as an individual’s emotional, psychological, or social well-being. Mental health impacts every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), approximately 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness, 5.6% of U.S. adults experienced severe mental illness, and 6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2020. Additionally, 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016.
The African American community, in particular, suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. The department of psychiatry at Columbia University, reported that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems, such as Major Depressive Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Additionally, young Black adults (ages 18-25) also experience higher rates of mental health problems and lower mental health resource utilization rates than young white adults and older Black adults.
Data also indicates that West Virginia consistently rates among states with the highest percentage of people experiencing mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. In a ranking of America’s healthiest communities by U.S. News and World Report, West Virginia was reported as having one of the nation’s highest rates of deaths of despair which include fatalities attributed to suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related disease.
In the healthiest communities ranking, counties received a mental health score. The average score among West Virginia counties was approximately 28 out of 100. The five lowest-scoring counties for mental health were all in West Virginia. …