Alpharetta is a quiet middle class suburb about 20 miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia. This affluent suburb of Fulton County boasts a population of 57,551 and features below average crime rates, unemployment numbers, and above average graduation rates, average salary, and median home prices — when compared to Georgia-wide averages.
Of Georgia’s 9.7 million residents approximately 350,000 adults live with serious mental illness. In this case, “serious mental illness” is defined as mental illness that requires treatment or prescription in order to manage systems that affect day-to-day life. The US Department of Health and Human states that Georgia has a higher than average rate of teen depression with 31% (23% male, 39% female) of high school student’s grades 9-12 suffer from depressive symptoms. When asked, 31% of high school student’s grades 9-12 responded that they had felt sad or hopeless during the previous 12 months before the survey. While this isn’t an extremely accurate way to measure depressive behavior, it is about 3% higher than the national average.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also reports that Georgia as a whole is largely inadequate at dealing with mental illness with their public mental health system. The system only provides services to 21% of adults who live with serious mental issues, and spent just $61 per capita on mental health agency services, which accounts for just 1% of the statewide spending budget. In addition, 52-percent of Georgia state mental health spending was on community mental health services, with 48-percent being spent on state hospital care. This ratio is well outside the national average with the nationwide distribution featuring 70-percent on community mental health services and 28-percent on state hospital care.