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Mental health in Fort Smith

3 Minute Read | Published Nov 24 2023 | Updated Dec 01 2023

Mental health disorders are a prevalent issue in Fort Smith, Arkansas. According to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 44.8% of adults in Arkansas with a mental illness did not receive any treatment in the past year. This highlights the need for more awareness and resources for mental health in Fort Smith and the rest of the state. However, it is important to note that with proper treatment and support, individuals with mental health disorders can lead fulfilling lives.

One of the most common mental health disorders in Fort Smith is depression. According to the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) by Mercy Fort Smith, 18% of adults in Sebastian County (which includes Fort Smith) reported experiencing depressive symptoms. This is higher than the state average of 16.1%. Additionally, the CHNA also reported that 10.9% of adults in Sebastian County have been diagnosed with depression. The prevalence of depression is a major concern in Fort Smith, as it can lead to significant impairments in daily functioning if left untreated.

Another prevalent mental health disorder in Fort Smith is anxiety. The CHNA report found that 7.9% of adults in Sebastian County reported experiencing frequent anxiety or panic attacks. This is slightly higher than the state average of 7.6%. Anxiety disorders can significantly impact a person's quality of life, and it is crucial for individuals to seek help when experiencing symptoms.

Substance abuse is also a significant issue in Fort Smith, and it often co-occurs with mental health disorders. According to the CHNA, about 1 in 10 adults in Sebastian County reported having a substance abuse disorder. The impact of substance abuse on mental health is substantial, as it can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase the risk of developing other mental health disorders.

In addition to the high prevalence of mental health disorders, the CHNA also found a shortage of mental health resources in Fort Smith. There are only 24 mental health providers per 100,000 population compared to the state average of 48 per 100,000. This shortage of resources can make it challenging for individuals seeking treatment, emphasizing the need for more mental health services in Fort Smith.

Despite these challenges, there is hope for individuals with mental health disorders in Fort Smith. NAMI Arkansas offers support groups and education programs for individuals and families affected by mental illness. The Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center also provides mental health services, including therapy and medication management.

It is important to remember that mental health disorders are treatable, and seeking help is a sign of strength. With proper treatment, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know in Fort Smith is struggling with a mental health disorder, do not hesitate to reach out for support and resources. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available.
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