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Presentation findings agree with Health Department report

HOUGHTON — Many of the findings of the two-hour presentation on mental health which took place at the Keweenaw County Courthouse on May 27, were similar to a 2018 report published by The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD).

In 2017-18, the WUPHD conducted a community health needs assessment in collaboration with 31 community partners. The assessment covers all 15 counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, home to more than 300,000 residents.

The purpose of the study, and the subsequent report, was intended to inform health practitioners, planners, policymakers, and the public, which was the same intention of the mental health presentation, although the latter confined itself to mental health, mental illness, and addiction.

The WUPHD report, which can be read as a snapshot of the region’s health status, states, “and used to identify priorities for community health improvement. If knowledge is power, it is hoped that this report will empower citizens and health care professionals alike to work effectively for improved health and wellbeing in the Upper Peninsula.”

As the Mental Health Presentation discussed, the Community Health Needs Assessment report disclosed that all U.P. counties have multiple federal designations for health professional shortages, known as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), either for the entire county, a part of the county, or a specific population within the county. This includes professional services for mental health.

The report states that HPSA designation is given when an area, population or facility. meets a standard set of federal criteria. Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are designations that indicate provider shortages in primary care, dental, and mental health.

Access to care figured prominently among issues identified in community forums sponsored by various healthcare entities across the U.P. in recent years, the report states. Not surprisingly, access issues were among the highest ranked priorities by this assessment’s regional survey respondents.

The study also found that 2017 Regional Adult Health Survey Data showed that:

– Seven percent of adults in the Upper Peninsula delayed or did not receive mental health care due to cost;

– 5 percent delayed or did not receive care due to a lack of available mental health professionals.

– Younger adults and men had higher rates of reported delays in treatment due to cost and availability.

– Nine percent of men and 5 percent of women delayed or did not receive treatment because of cost.

Nationally, and locally, about one-fifth of people experience mental illness, most commonly depression or anxiety; suicide rates are rising among youth and adults; and barriers to accessing services include professional shortages, cost, and stigma.

– From the Regional Adult Health Survey, about 1-in-4 adults in the Upper Peninsula reported they had been told by a health care provider they had a depressive disorder, and 1-in-5 reported they had an anxiety disorder (lifetime prevalence.)

– Nearly one quarter of adults in the Upper Peninsula were on medication to help with mood, emotions, or mental health and 8 percent received counseling from a mental health professional in the previous year.

Among 10 U.P. counties where 12th graders took the Communities That Care Youth Risk and Protective Factors Survey in 2016-18, in two counties greater than 45 percent of students reported symptoms of depression, and in another 6 counties between 31 and 45 percent reported symptoms of depression.

– Every U.P. county but Marquette is a federally designated HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) for mental health care based on the number of psychiatrists per capita.

– Across the U.P. there are just 39 inpatient beds and 8 full-time psychiatrists serving the population of 311,000, roughly one psychiatrist per 39,000 people. There is no full-time in county child psychiatrist.

It must be remembered that the WUPHD study was completed two years prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has greatly exacerbated mental health and addition issues, as well as suicide rates.

The 350-page WUPD report can be found here:

https://www.wupdhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Upper-Peninsula-Community-Health-Needs-Assessment-2018-Second-Edition.pdf.

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