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New Orleans is known by many names. To tourists it is The Big Easy. To government officials it is NOLA. But to the 369,2501 residents that make their home in this southern basin, it is often pronounced noo-AW-linz. No matter what you call it, it is a city unlike any other. Located in the southern part of Louisiana, New Orleans bridges the Mississippi River. In decades past, the city was known for its party spirit, found mostly in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. After the devastation the city faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city continued to welcome thousands of tourists who travel to The Big Easy to enjoy its distinct southern jazz, Cajun delicacies, and fantastic football.

Mental Health Statistics
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15.2% of all metropolitan area residents used illegal drugs between 2005 and 2010. Prescription pills were used for nonmedical purposes by 5.8% of adults, and 10.8% of all area residents reported having a substance use problem. Depression was reported by 7.4% of all adults during that same time2. The New Orleans Health Department reported that in August of 2013, the average number of mental health holds in emergency rooms was 18 per month. They estimate that community-treatment based teams are serving an average of 4 or more area residents each week3.

Mental Health Resources
New Orleans residents can access an array of mental health resources and services through the Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD), which serves New Orleans and other parishes. Through the MHSD, residents with mental illness receive Assertive Community Treatment and Crisis Response if needed. Community clinics provide additional services, including therapy and rehabilitation. The MHSD will refer clients with substance abuse issues to detoxification programs, and they also provide resources for gambling addiction. Case management is an integral part of MHSD, and counselors and social workers help coordinate inpatient and outpatient care.

Psychiatric and psychological evaluations are administered to ensure the right form of care is given. If medication is required, care managers will oversee that mode of treatment. For residents in financial need, there is a pharmacy assistance program available as well. Other general services include those for pregnant women, developmentally disabled individuals, and the homeless. A crisis response team is also available for emergency psychiatric situations. This mobile service is regulated by the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and provides immediate intervention and identification in psychiatric emergencies. The goal is to be able to offer mental health care when needed, rather than referring clients directly to the criminal justice system. Similarly, Child-Adolescent Response Team (CART) is a crisis response program dedicated to aiding children and adolescents in psychiatric emergencies4.

NOLA also offers a free Cope Crisis Line via 211. This hotline is staffed by counselors trained to provide guidance regarding community services and counseling to those in need. The NOLA for Life Playbook is a new campaign designed to promote life in the midst of a violent environment. With a focus on preventing youth violence, this innovative program targets at-risk youth and provides education, awareness, and empowerment5.

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2013). State & County QuickFacts. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/2255000.html

2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Substance Use and Mental Disorders in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner MSA. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUHMetroBriefReports/NSDUH-Metro-New-Orleans.pdf

3 New Orleans Health Department. (2013). New Orleans Mental Health Dashboard, A Community Assessment Tool. Retrieved from http://www.nola.gov/getattachment/Health/Data-and-Publications/NO-Behavioral-Health-Dashboard-8-15-2013.pdf/

4 City of New Orleans. (2012). A Guide to Behavioral Health Resources in the Greater New Orleans Area. Retrieved from http://www.nola.gov/nola/media/Health-Department/Publications/Behavorial-Health-Resource-Guide-final-1412.pdf

5 City of New Orleans. (2013). Data and Publications: Plans and Reports. Retrieved from http://www.nola.gov/health-department/data-and-publications/