Earlier in 2017, Allen County, with the help of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, surveyed the residents to gain information regarding health-related data and from those results, priority areas were determined. These priorities are created based on community needs and developed through deliberation between multiple community agencies and members. This week and in the coming weeks, we will be discussing each of these priority areas. Our upcoming topics will include the following areas: Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Maternal and Infant Health, Wellness and Chronic Disease, Transportation, Housing & Tobacco and lastly Youth Health. Today we’d like to take a closer look at the priority area of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Throughout the remainder of 2017 and into 2018, the goals for improving mental health and decreasing substance abuse here in Allen County include to increase the number of parents who are intentionally talking to their children about; their strengths, about the harmful effects of drugs, and knowing the signs of suicidal thoughts, to increase consumer awareness of the dangers of prescription opioid pain medication, address first responder fatigue, link people to treatment services and to work on developing an Overdose Death Review Board. Most of this work is facilitated through the Allen County Opiate Community Action Commission. More information about the commission can be found by calling Mike Schoenhofer at 419-222-5120.
While there have been many successes around Mental Health and Substance abuse such as the implementation of PAX Good Behavior Game in 14 schools, the launching of The Let’s Talk Campaign and the establishment of the aforementioned Opiate Community Action Commission, there is still much work to do. According to our recent data, 3% of adults in Allen County considered attempting suicide last year, when asked what caused them anxiety, stress or depression 33% of adults stated that it was work stress and 31% stated that it was caused by financial stress and the number of emergency room/urgent care visits due to overdoses have increased by at least 20 incidences per month in 2017 vs 2016 (through June 2017 we have had 324 versus 151 in the same time period in 2016).
As you can see, the numbers do not lie, and we need to continue to work to improve numbers when it comes to Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Allen County. We ask that you all consider how you may be able to get involved and there are many ways you can do that. Parents must begin talking to their kids about drugs, suicide, and encourage them by talking about their strengths and talents. More information can be found at at www.letstalk.care. We also want to encourage folks to take a course on Mental Health First Aid at www.mhfa.care. Another way to get engaged is to learn more about strategies in process by the Allen County Opiate Community Action Commission and you can put the Hope Line for Information or Crisis number into your phone in case someone you know needs access to this support network (800-567-4673 or text 741741). Lastly, become informed about the risks of taking any opioid pain medication either legally prescribed or illegally obtained at http://www.wecarepeople.org/.
It will take all of us, working together, to continue to improve the health of the residents in Allen County. For more information about the County Health Assessment or Improvement Plan, please call the Activate Allen County office at 419-221-5035.