Local officials say they are preparing to launch a community-wide initiative this year aimed at addressing the deepening mental health crisis in Bartholomew County and surrounding areas.
Over the past year, the Columbus Regional Health Healthy Communities Initiative has laid the groundwork for new mental health initiatives, including resource alignment and staffing, with interim plans to officially launch in April. Community partnerships and corporate responsibility.
The mental health initiative, which is expected to involve the governments of the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County, as well as county health systems, local behavioral health systems, and local education systems, was largely responsible for its creation. modeled after collaborative work. The Alliance for Substances Abuse Progress (ASAP) is an organization he launched in 2017 as part of a community-wide effort to combat the opioid crisis and substance use, officials said.
Currently, the mental health initiative is still in its early stages and has not yet been named, Abedian said. This year, officials hope to develop a common understanding of the current assets and challenges of the community, as well as best-practice solutions to the local youth and adult mental health crisis.
Next month, representatives from the City of Columbus, Bartholomew County, Centerstone, CRH, and the Bartholomew Consolidated Schools Corporation will meet to discuss the initiative and how mental health has impacted their organizations. We are planning to hold a “retreat”.
“We’ve been planning this for a year, but we’re just getting started,” says Abedian.
Avedian said the launch of the mental health initiative is largely the result of the findings of the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment of CRH’s service areas.
Conducted on behalf of CRH by Professional Research Consultants Inc., a healthcare consulting firm, the evaluation included surveys of residents and key informants in Bartholomew County and other communities served by CRH, as well as demographic and Contains other health-related data.
Similar reviews have been conducted every few years since 1996, according to the Healthy Communities website.
However, the 2021 results paint a bleak picture of community mental health status compared to state and national figures. had suicidal thoughts in the previous year and were unable to obtain mental health services when needed.
At the same time, the 2021 assessment found significantly fewer mental health providers per capita in Bartholomew County compared to the United States as a whole.
“For all indicators related to mental health, things are worse than they were three years ago,” Avedian said.
In the 2021 assessment, 25.9% of respondents in Bartholomew County rated their mental health as “fair” or “poor,” compared to 13.4% nationally, with 2018 local assessments showing Bartholomew That’s up from 14.9% of respondents in Mew County.
Additionally, 31.8% (nearly one in three) of respondents in Bartholomew County were diagnosed with a depressive disorder, compared to 21% in Indiana and 20.6% nationally.
According to the 2018 and 2021 assessments, the suicide rate per 100,000 in CRH service areas also increased from 9.2 per 100,000 in 2007-2009 to 19 per 100,000 in 2017-2019. , approximately doubled. By comparison, the U.S. suicide rate rose from 11.3 to 14 per 100,000 he over the same period.
The 2021 assessment also suggests that mental health problems may be more prevalent among younger Bartholomew County residents, women, and lower-income residents.
A total of 42.1% of respondents ages 18 to 39 in Bartholomew County reported experiencing symptoms of depression in the past year, compared with 36.3% of women and 46% of all low-income residents. has been reported.
Additionally, 17.2% of Bartholomew County residents ages 18-39 reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year, compared to 5.5% of respondents in the same age group in 2018.
Overall, in the 2021 assessment, 9.8% of Bartholomew County respondents said they had considered suicide during the previous year, up from 6.9% in the 2018 assessment.
At the same time, 10.8% of Bartholomew County respondents in the 2021 survey said they were unable to get mental health services when they needed them in the previous year, compared to 3.5% in the 2018 survey. says.
Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop last month backed the new initiative and said he would “make some effort” this year to “increase the chances of success.”
“One of the things Indiana hasn’t done well in the last decade or so is dealing with people with mental health issues,” Lienhoop says. “Because we haven’t, these problems tend to manifest themselves in the form of either substance use disorders, homelessness, or other types of behaviors that are difficult for us to respond to, such as medical or police. First responders, etc. Hopefully this mental health initiative (which we will start) working with healthy communities will bring some of the successes we have seen at ASAP. ”
Officials expressed optimism that working together could have a positive impact, although it remains to be seen where the new initiative will ultimately lead.
“Our community has a history of working together to improve community health,” said Abedian. “…the mental health crisis can seem overwhelming and daunting, but approaching this set of problems in the same way we did with the opioid crisis and infant mortality can have a positive impact. We believe and are confident that we can: the mental health of our community.”