Study: Mo. ranks among worst in mental health

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - How are you feeling today? You may be sad to hear Missouri ranks among the worst when it comes to mental health. That's according to a new study combining data from federal health agencies.

The study listed Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas in the top ten for mental distress.

"It's gorgeous here," said Jessica Tygett-Self. "West of here it's beautiful but the financial part of southeast Missouri is down and there's a lot of drug problems."

"Portions of the state may be down but I don't think that's true of Cape Girardeau and other areas north of us," said Scott Shivelbine.

"I don't think we're all depressed but a lot of kids feel there's not a lot to do about here other than go to the park or the movies," said Seth Little.

Counselors in southeast Missouri say dozens of factors from abuse to genetics can trigger depression. But many people with moderate symptoms complain of economic strain and lack of opportunity.

"They either can't find a job or the job they have doesn't pay well," said Jessica.

"You can't fix poverty," said Shivelbine. "In the Heartland we all want more jobs."

"I know a lot of people that are unemployed and hopefully that will change with the new casino coming in," said Alex McDaniel.

Counselors here also suggest many individuals go undiagnosed and untreated. People we spoke with feel for many, treatment is just too expensive.

"If you make $200 a month you can't get medical coverage but you can't live on $200 a month," said Jessica.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Lack of interest
  • Feelings of hopelessness and guilt
  • Irritability
  • And even persistent aches and pains or digestive problem

Bottom line, doctors say if you're depressed, anxious or stressed  it likely has to do with a lot more than where you live.

"I think this is a great place to live," said McDaniel.

The people we spoke to who classified themselves as very happy said that was because of good relationships with family and friends and steady income. Missouri has earned points for proactive mental health programs.

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