Weekly County Spotlight - Pecos County
Like many of the counties in Region 9, Pecos is relatively rural and sparsely populated given it’s size. Despite being almost 5,000 square miles in area, it’s population rests at only 15,507 as of the 2010 census. To put those numbers in perspective, Pecos County alone is about the same size as the entire state of Connecticut. But, it’s population comprises less than 1% of the total population of Texas.
Approximately half of the population of Pecos county resides in the county seat of Fort Stockton. In addition, due to the county’s proximity to the Texas/Mexico border, the county has a high population of Hispanic residents. In fact, 69% of the county’s residents identify as Hispanic. These factors create an environment where it can be very difficult for residents of the county to receive medical, mental health, and/or drug/alcohol treatment. Most (if not all the services) for mental health related issues are in Fort Stockton. However, some borders of the county are up to 80 miles from Fort Stockton. This creates a burden on individuals who don’t live in Fort Stockton to receive services.
The large Hispanic population enhances the difficulties faced by the largely rural population of Pecos County. Many of the residents of Pecos County speak little to no English. In fact, data suggest that less than half the population of Pecos County speaks only English. The country, as a whole, faces a drastic shortage of Spanish speaking individuals who work in the social services arena (i.e., counselors, health providers, social workers, etc.). So even in instances where residents might be able to make the journey to receive services, they may face challenges in finding a provider who can effectively communicate with the. Both issues create a significant hardship for individuals who may be in need of mental health, medical, and/or drug treatment services.
Thankfully, issues of substance abuse among Spanish-speaking persons is an issue gaining awareness. The number of resources available for Spanish speakers is slowly growing. While, counseling services may still be lacking, there is some print information available to individuals who want more information. Check out the link to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. They have a wide variety of publications and handouts about drugs available in both English and Spanish!
Published May 14, 2018.