This week the findings of a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey, was reported in the local east Tennessee news. It appears that a Tennessee city, Johnson City, received the low honor of being the most mentally-depressed city in the United States. According to the survey, and samplling of 1million over 3 years, revealed 27.5% of Johnson City was mentally depressed.
If actually true; it’s understandable.
Johnson City, for decades, has been ruled by a “ruling gentry”, which roughly owns the whole political process. Occasionally, an outsider will get elected to something, but if he doesn’t behave he will be quickly politioned as an outsider. This “ruling gentry” has pursued a policy of getting a drink in as many hands as possible. Therefore, Johnson CIty is like a military town, inundated with bars, honk-tonks, and various watering holes. Notwithstanding, Johnson City is a college town and has a Veterans Center with a VA hospital. People from surrounding communities travel to Johnson City to party. Other than pure bars there are numerous chain resturants, bar-resturants, and accomodating hotels. These amenties exceed any local community and are similiar in number and quality to what you might find in a much larger populated city.
The “ruling gentry” has permitted the bars to be located on the doorstep of East Tennessee State University. On a strip I call “Bourbon Street” the bars, at one time, were dotted along this street that led right into the university. That strip may be a little tamer now than in it’s hey-day of a few years ago. All the crimes you can think of have happened over the past many years in that broad area. Killings, stabbings; you name it.
Being a party town has it’s own refuse to go with it’s name and reputation. So, there is a homeless and street population that must rank in numbers per capita right up there with the mental depression survey. Drive through the town and you will see them sitting on the curbs, ill-clad and always the sad countenance. Street people can be found most anywhere. If there were a survey of alcoholics per capita I feel confident Johnson City would again achieve low honors. I suspect, that if you went into the homes and abodes you would find even more tragic stories. A party town exacts a price.
The “ruling gentry” might will accept a good-paying industry, which there has been scant evidence of recently, if one presented itself. But, it’s been the bars and honky-tonks that really turn-on the “ruling gentry”. Just a new place to drink. A few years ago it was reported the gentry were sitting up bars or drinking accommodations in the public library. There is nothing more dangerous and volatile than mixing booze and books.
The town has festivals and music shows from time to time that bring people in form other communities to enjoy a night of drinking and revelry. Sometimes, the arrest figures are published for those events and the high numbers and character of the crimes should be depressing by any one’s standards.
I have not read the survey, but the reported results makes sense.