Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Disorders

A woman looking concerned

Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Disorders Profile

Download an in-depth health indicator profile with additional analysis and findings on depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders in Santa Barbara County.

Full Analysis

Depression or depressive disorders are sometimes called the “common cold of mental illness” because they are so common. Mood disorders such as depression can lead to changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior associated with distress and/or poor functioning in work and relationships.

Measure: Depression

The questionnaire measured depression by asking: “Has a doctor ever told you that you have a depressive disorder, including depression, major depression, dysthymia, or minor depression?”

Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA

Santa Barbara County saw a 5.6% increase in self-reported Lifetime Depressive Disorders compared to 2016, though this difference was not statistically significant. Since 2016, aside from those in the middle age and income groups, every demographic group in Santa Barbara County saw an increase. Significant increases between 2016 and 2019 were observed for those age 18-44 and those in the lowest household income group. Most impacted demographic subgroups include females, non-Hispanic Whites, those with some college, and those with household incomes below $35,000 (see figures below).

Additional depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA can be found in the Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Disorders Health Indicator Profile. Follow this link to learn more about the methods for health indicator profile analysis.

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Depression by Demographic Group

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Depression by Demographic Group

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Measure: Anxiety or Other Mental Health Disorders

The questionnaire measured lifetime anxiety and other mental health disorders by asking: “Have you ever been told that you had an anxiety disorder or other mental health disorder?”

Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA

Most impacted demographic subgroups include females, those age 18-44 years old, those with a high school education or some college, and those living in households with incomes below $75,000 (see figures below).

Figure 6. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Anxiety or Other Mental Health Disorders by Demographic Group

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Anxiety or Other Mental Health Disorders by Demographic Group

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Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County Listening Tour

Cottage Health and its partners heard from a wide array of leaders and community members through a Listening Tour focused on behavioral health. A full Listening Tour report related to binge drinking can be found in the Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Disorders Health Indicator Profile.

Despite being common, mild to moderate conditions have the tendency to “fall through the cracks” and go untreated, report Listening Tour participants. Rising rates of depression and anxiety are hitting Santa Barbara County residents. Some groups are differentially affected by depression and anxiety, according to Listening Tour participants. In particular, adolescents and young adults and members of the Latinx community are key populations identified as vulnerable to depression and anxiety in Santa Barbara County.

Quote from a Service Provider

“Fear and anxiety amongst not only parents but children. Even if they have [immigration] status, in the population that we serve, chances are someone in their family or extended family is not documented. So, they have a general fear of deportation and also a fear of being victims of racism itself. So, it’s generated a great deal of stress in the immigrant community that we serve.”

Many working and living in Santa Barbara County recognize what resources are needed to improve access to behavioral health services and to help those suffering with depression and anxiety. Following are key takeaways from the Listening Tour participants’ suggestions for building a more robust behavioral healthcare system to deal with depression and anxiety:

  1. Listening Tour participants shared the need for individuals to become knowledgeable in “mental health first aid” as a way to dismantle stigma and recognize the first signs of onset for anxiety and depression.
  2. More opportunities in which professionals can become better educated to handle mental health and substance use issues are needed. Primary care physicians need more support to understand their patients’ behavioral health needs and be equipped with information about where to refer them for further treatment.

  3. Leverage social media as a tool for good. Although it is common to identify social media as an instigator in rising levels of depression and anxiety, many see the flipside potential of social media. Proper training in social media literacy is critical.

  4. In the wider community, Santa Barbara residents want workshops that raise awareness about behavioral health, reduce stigma, and provide tools to manage behavioral health challenges. Especially important are workshops that double as community-building events that are specifically tailored for groups experiencing social marginalization.

It must be a priority of healthcare providers in Santa Barbara County to provide non-judgmental and culturally appropriate care with communities who have long felt excluded. Developing trusting relationships with these communities is urgently needed. Successful outreach will go beyond education and will provide opportunities for social connection and underscore the importance of destigmatizing depression and anxiety.

Behavioral Health Listening Tour

Health professional consoling a patient

Learn about the behavioral challenges facing populations in Santa Barbara County and the implications that they have on public health.

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