A person's mental health status also contributes to how to he or she handles stress, relates to others, and makes choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Within the broad category of mental health, mental illness specifically refers to all diagnosable mental disorders (source).
There are five main categories of mental illness (source):
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including: biology (factors such as genes or brain chemistry), life experiences (such as trauma or abuse), and family history (source).
Why is this a priority?
In the 2016 Regional Health Assessment, it was challenging
to understand the full scope of mental health in the OHC region because data was limited. Much of the evidence was based on anecdotal feedback from community
members who experienced mental illness firsthand from family,
clients, or personally. The 2019 assessment is similar in that available data
indicators are still limited. However, there has been much more conversation in
the past three years about the burden of mental health on the OHC Region.
What are our hospitals seeing?
When evaluating hospital data, mental health rises to the
surface, not only for AHI, but also for specific age groups
and payer types. Of all AHI, 21.4% of visits in the OHC Region
are due to mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders. This rate
jumps to over 33% for people 18 – 64 years of age, and nearly 41% for people
without health insurance.
What is our community seeing?
For the OHC Region overall, both indicators have gotten worse since the 2016 assessment and continue to be worse than the national data.
What does it cost?
to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s Health Care Satellite Account,
in 2013, $89 billion was spent for non-institutionalized mental illness, which
accounts for 5% of total healthcare expenditures (source). Specific to major depressive disorder, the total cost of this illness is estimated at $210.5 billion per year. Half of this total is attributed to workplace costs—such as missed days from work and reduced productivity —about 45% of the costs are due to direct medical costs, and 5% are related to suicide, according to a
2015 study (source).
What can communities do?
Communities can take an active role in reducing the impact
of mental illness and its risk factors. The OHC encourages communities to
adopt evidence-based strategies. Below are some ideas for communities to
consider when addressing mental health.
Improve access to appropriate care. Building a
community that supports access the right care at the right time
is critical. Efforts can focus on reducing barriers to care, improved
referrals between community organizations, enhancing the healthcare workforce,
and advocating for change that positively increases access to appropriate care.
Improve education and awareness. Mental illness is a
disease that many in communities are still unfamiliar with. Efforts
should be targeted at increasing awareness around mental health and substance
misuse, as well as equipping people with the knowledge to provide support to
others suffering from the diseases, such as programs like Mental Health First
Stabilize individuals in crisis. Individuals
who are experiencing a mental health or substance misuse crisis are too often
without appropriate community support. Community efforts should focus on
increasing access to immediate care through direct service provision and
improvement of community systems to offer assistance.
Focus on vulnerable populations. Some groups
within a community may be more susceptible to mental health struggles. Communities
should examine potentially vulnerable populations and, if disparities exist,
community partners should determine appropriate approaches.
To see what our community is doing about this health priority, view our Community Health Improvement Plan: CoxHealth CHIP