New report defines health priorities
FINGER LAKES--Counties throughout the Finger Lakes region will spend the next three years focusing on residents' struggles with mental health, substance use disorders, chronic diseases and food security in the region.
The new Comprehensive Regional Community Health Assessment was produced by Common Ground Health and the Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates County public health departments. They have identified these issues as key drivers of health outcomes. The 300-page report outlines many other regional trends in physical and mental health outcomes and takes a detailed look at an array of topics driving public health in each county in the region. It also provides useful local data that may be helpful to researchers and grant writers among others. The report is available digitally at commongroundhealth.org/CHA2022.
In Yates County, Emily End, a public health educator, explained that each county will develop their own goals, objectives and interventions. Although she can't speak for all counties, in Yates County, discussions and decisions are driven by data.
"The first year was focused mainly on planning," End said. "We looked at data and determined health concerns. And then we discussed possible interventions."
As the work pertains to the mental health focus area, Yates County has committed to reducing opioid overdose age-adjusted deaths by 7 percent to 14.3 per 100,000 population by the end of the three-year effort, according to End.
Additional goals, outlined in the report include screening for food insecurity, facilitating and actively supporting referral; increasing availability of/access to overdose reversal (Naloxone) training to prescribers, pharmacists and consumers; and establishing additional permanent safe disposal sites for prescription drugs and organized take-back days.
"Mental health concerns have always been with us," said End, explaining the increased focus on addressing mental health needs. "Maybe the questions weren't asked before. It's possible mental health challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and isolation. It's probably a bit of both. Either way, it's good that we're talking about this. Every step we take helps to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health challenges."
Yates County's public health department is working in partnership with other agencies to address the focus areas, including the hospital, FLACRA, law enforcement, and others as appropriate to the situation.
According to the report, Schuyler County hopes to address several goals, including, among others, reducing the opioid analgesics prescription for pain, age-adjusted rate by 5 percent; reducing the past year prevalence of major depressive episodes among adults aged 18 or older by 5 percent to no more than 6.2 percent; and reducing the age-adjusted suicide mortality rate by 10 percent.
In that same report, Steuben County has committed to a variety of initiatives, including implementing multi-component school-based obesity prevention interventions; increasing availability of/access to overdose reversal (Naloxone); and strengthening resources for families and caregivers.