TV6 Investigates: Rates of mental health problems are soaring in the QC

Who are we QC? Part 3
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 11:35 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Quad-Cities has reached a mental health flashpoint.

Almost a quarter of Quad-Citians – 79,000 people – are receiving treatment for a mental health problem, 40% of Quad-Citians are showing signs of chronic depression, and 23% say their mental health is not good.

A TV6 Investigates analysis of community health data is uncovering some troubling trends.

A recent report shows a rising number of Quad-Citians who say they’re in poor health and increasingly finding it hard to access health care.

“I think we are in an era where mental health is definitely struggling, and it’s not surprising that it is here,” Janet Hill, interim director of RIPHD, said.

The Rock Island County Health Department and Scott County partner with the local hospital systems for a report issued every three years.

The report says many Quad-Citians aren’t finding the care they need — 24% say they have trouble making appointments for any kind of ailment, more than double what it was 20 years ago.

Treatment for mental health is also proving much harder to find. In 2002, 13% of Quad-Citians said they had trouble finding access to mental health care. Twenty years later, it’s almost 30%.

Licensed therapist Olivia Hedden treats children and families said the Robert Young Center sees 3,000 referrals a year from primary-care providers alone.

“There is a high need, and there’s not always enough resources to keep up with that need.”

That’s also proving true for children.

A staggering 28% of Quad-Cities kids required mental health treatment in 2021 – well above the national average of 17%.

Therapists on the front lines attribute part of the spike to the COVID pandemic.

“People are struggling. Kids are struggling. A lot of time was lost for kids during the pandemic,” Hedden said.

As a result, providers say they’re innovating to reach more people through telemedicine and transportation services.

But experts say simply hiring more doctors won’t solve the problem. To dig deeper, you have to look at factors that start in our neighborhoods.

“I mean, people really understood that you need access to safe places to be outside, Janet, of the RIPHD, said. “You need a good job. You need good schools. And if you don’t have those, you don’t — you can’t lead a healthy life.”

Meeting those basic needs leads to a healthier population. And that’s going to take a united effort among social service groups and local governments.

“For me, it’s really about increasing our collaborative efforts in the community, bringing all the sectors to the table to have conversations about how we each contribute to the overall health of individuals and the community as a whole,” Nicole Carkner, director of Quad-Cities Health Initiative, said.

Cecelia Bailey, director of the nonprofit Quad-Cities Open Network, said her organization helps social service agencies coordinate with each other to meet the rising demand.

“It really can’t be building a whole bunch of houses. It can’t be about hiring a bunch of practitioners. Not one thing is going to fix our problem.”

At the root, solutions lie in building awareness around the mental health spike.

“What we’re looking at is really training our community to recognize symptoms, to look at mental health as something that can be solved if we’re working together.”

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.

In Part 4 of “Who are we, QC,” we’ll take a deep dive into housing. Where are people buying – and why are property values booming?


Quad Cities Open Network 309-736-6766

Vera French 563-383-1900

Robert Young Mental Health Center, Moline 309-779-3000

National Alliance on Mental Illness of the Greater Mississippi Valley 563-386-7477 Ext. 266

UnityPoint Health

Genesis Health Systems

National: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

2021 Quad Cities Community Health Assessment

Quad City Health Initiative

Rock Island County Health Department 309-793-1955

Scott County Health Department