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Mental Health, Substance Abuse Among Top Concerns in Hillsborough County

Written by Ashley Sutphin

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Updated 08/16/2022

In Hillsborough County, Florida, top public health concerns include mental health and substance use disorders, yet stigma keeps many from receiving treatment.

Mental health conditions and substance abuse are among the top concerns for community health in Hillsborough County. Based on research gathered by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, BayCare Health System, Florida Department of Health, Advent Health, and Moffitt Cancer Center, there are significant barriers to treatment for some of these population health issues.

Major concerns for people in Hillsborough County, Florida include drug misuse, alcohol misuse, and mental health conditions. Despite these concerns, access to health care also remains an issue.

According to the State of Mental Health in America 2018 survey from Mental Health America, nearly 62% of people in Florida with any mental illness didn’t receive treatment, compared to only 55.8% nationwide. In 2014, Florida’s per capita mental health support ranked last in the United States. Further, in 2016, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for Floridians aged 25 to 34. Florida also ranked tenth in the nation for the number of adults with a dependence on alcohol or illicit drugs.

Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Throughout the country, only one in five people with a mental health condition receive the treatment they need. Fear of stigma could be one factor preventing people from receiving Florida mental health treatment or treatment for a combination of mental health and substance use

According to a 2014 report in the Miami Herald, mental health stigmas might prevent some from getting the treatment they need. Mental health stigma statistics show people fear being ostracized by friends, loved ones, and even society. 

A review of the relationship between stigma and substance use disorders showed similar trends. For example, an analysis of 17 studies concluded that people with substance use disorders were more likely to be viewed as unpredictable and dangerous and to be blamed for their condition. In fact, stigma surrounds substance use disorders more strongly than other mental health disorders.

Even outside of the mental health stigma, people also often face barriers to receiving treatment. For example, individuals’ health insurance often limits how much mental health care they can receive. Unfortunately, in Florida, as is the case with several other states that have the least access to mental health care, there is also the highest rates of incarceration. States with low mental health care treatment access and high rates of incarceration also include Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

A 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 7.9 million people in the U.S. have a substance use disorder and mental disorder simultaneously. When someone struggles with both a mental health condition as well as substance abuse, it can be referred to as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Either one of the disorders can occur first. Unfortunately, substances can worsen the symptoms of a mental health condition.

For anyone dealing with a simultaneous mental health and substance abuse treatment, help is available in the form of dual diagnosis treatment centers. Additionally, family support can alleviate some of the fears of the stigma that occur when a person seeks mental health and substance use services.

There are treatment options available in Florida, including The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health. We offer comprehensive, personalized dual diagnosis treatment. Our programs are evidence-based, and we also approach treatment plans with compassion and understanding. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health today to learn more about treatment options.

See More: Take a Mental Health Quiz

View Sources

Corrigan, Patrick. “How Stigma Interferes with Mental Health Care.” Academia, October 2004. Accessed August 29, 2019.

Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. “Mental Health In Florida: The Facts.” September 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment.” 2019. Accessed August 29, 2019.

Abrams, Allison. “The Catastrophic Effects of Mental Health Stigma.” Psychology Today, May 25, 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019.

Brafman, Ben. “Mental Illness More Prevalent Than You Think.” Miami Herald, October 6, 2014. Accessed August 29, 2019.

Yang, Lawrence; Wong, Liang Y.; Grivel, Margaux M.; Hasin, Deborah S.  “Stigma and substance use disorders: an international phenomenon.” Current opinion in psychiatry vol. 30,5 (2017): 378-388. Accessed August 29, 2019.