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):
What Causes Mental Health Problems?
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 2016, partners from across the community came together to assess the health needs of the Springfield region and collectively address those needs.
One issue that emerged, both as a priority health issue and as a contributing factor for other prioritized health issues, was mental health. The data used to prioritize mental health was limited—but it was a topic of great concern among care providers, public health and healthcare partners, media and the community. Springfield and Greene County leaders knew mental health and the often-connected issue of substance abuse needed to be addressed. But with little understanding of underlying causes, the breadth of these issues in the community, or how to best address concerns, the path forward was unclear. An assessment of these issues in our community was necessary to determine a path toward improvement.
A Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Assessment for Springfield and Greene County was completed in 2019 in an effort to dig deeper.
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?
According 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 health care 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 referral 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 Aid.
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.