New study finds Grand Rapids has highest rate of depression

Posted at 5:36 AM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 10:27:17-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Depression is a word we’re hearing more of lately but it still holds a lot of stigma around it.

But the reality is depression is on the rise.

There has been a nearly 18 percent increase in those diagnosed with depression between 2016 and 2017 and according to a new study by a group called Insurance Providers says Grand Rapids has the highest rate of depression among large U.S. metro cities with 25 percent of residents diagnosed.

There are a number of factors that can impact a persons mental health, like genetics, stress, environment, physical health, finances, divorce and the list goes on.

Here you can see the breakdown in the percentage of people diagnosed with depression and the correlation to things like obesity and poverty level.

We sat down with Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, to dig deeper into these numbers.

"You look at the study and you wonder if more people were reporting because they become more knowledgable about depression and we’re talking about it more?" Buck said.

Buck says if anything, this new study shines a spotlight on something that needs to be talked about and that’s why efforts are being made here locally to get help into the hands of those that need it.

Buck also says more than half of those with a mental illness receive no treatment but there are huge initiatives going on right now and many behavioral health providers and hospitals here are going to be participating in a program called Zero Suicide.

But one significant effort in breaking down the barriers starts in our schools because 50 percent of mental health disorders come on the by age of 14 years old.

"Half of all mental health disorders start showing signs or symptoms by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24," Buck said. "So if we have a greater understanding that I’ve got this great window of opportunity to educate about mental illnesses, mental health disorders, then possibly could I get folks into treatment sooner, get better sooner because ultimately it is our brain," she said.

"It’s a call to action to make sure that we’re doing what we should be doing and that would be making sure that people know where to access services, and where services are available," Buck said. "In addition, lets talk about great things like exercising and eating right and putting all of these protective factors into play."

Buck says as we head into this time of the year where people can tend to isolate themselves, let’s make sure that me, myself as a friend, is reaching out to someone that you know hasn’t come out lately.