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Mental health in Durham

3 Minute Read | Published Nov 24 2023 | Updated Nov 29 2023

Mental health disorders affect millions of people worldwide and are a critical issue that impacts public health and the economy. In Durham, North Carolina, these issues are as prevalent as anywhere else. However, it's important to note that mental health conditions are treatable and many people with mental health problems recover completely.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in any given year, approximately 1 in 5 adults (18.07% of the population) in North Carolina experiences a mental health disorder. This makes up an estimated 1.57 million people, a large proportion of whom may be residents of Durham.

Durham County has a heavy emphasis on community mental health, providing several resources for residents. According to Durham County Department of Public Health, depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders in the area.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline reported the suicide rate in North Carolina was 12.97 per 100,000 individuals as of 2018. It placed North Carolina at 40th in suicide rates among American states. This is a matter that requires attention, but it's comforting to know that suicidal thoughts can often be a byproduct of treatable mental conditions.

Substance abuse, which often co-occurs with mental health disorders, is also a significant concern in Durham. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services indicated a growing problem with opioid misuse, but there's also a strong response from authorities to address the issue with the 2017 Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, which provides another line of defense towards mental health recovery.

The Triangle Down Syndrome Network also reported that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Carolina are more vulnerable to mental health issues. More so, they might not receive the care they need due to difficulty diagnosing and accessing treatment. This further emphasizes the need for inclusivity in mental health care.

Despite these issues, many positive steps are being taken in Durham and North Carolina as a whole to address mental health problems. The county hosts a broad range of mental health services, from hospitals with psychiatric units to numerous community mental health centers, providing treatment for conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Furthermore, North Carolina community colleges, including Durham Technical Community College, have initiated programs focusing on suicide prevention, counseling services, crisis management, professional development in counseling, and promoting mental health awareness on campus.

An additional important resource is the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) opened in 2016 by the Alliance Behavioral Healthcare in Durham. It offers immediate service to those facing a mental health or substance use crisis.

Efforts to combat mental illness in Durham and statewide are ongoing and continuously evolving. While the issues surrounding mental health can seem daunting, it is key to remember that these are health issues just like any other—they can be treated, managed, and recovered. Anyone suffering from mental health issues is encouraged to reach out for help; nobody has to face these problems alone.

In conclusion, the statistics underline the importance of recognizing mental health disorders in our communities, treating them with the urgency they deserve, and providing comprehensive, accessible care to all who need it. Remember: it's okay not to be okay, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
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