United Way Works for a Healthier America
Just as education and household finances are closely linked, health is closely connected to each of these conditions. Poorer households tend to have poorer health. More educated adults tend to have healthier families because they tend to have the means to afford health care. Kids who chronically miss school due to illness are not as likely to succeed. And dental health is, perhaps surprisingly, strongly linked to overall health and success.
Vaping is now more prolific in high school than smoking and smokeless tobacco combined. The long-term health effects of vaping are unknown, leading health authorities to be concerned about potential complications in the coming years from this increased use. The SEI region has higher rates of adult obesity compared to the state and high school obesity rates are also on the rise. The two major reasons for this increase are lack of physical activity and poor nutritional choices. In 2015 both in SEI and the state, 83% of adults failed to eat five daily servings of vegetables or fruit.1
Preventative care is important. In the United States, 93% of children had regular contact with health care professionals, which is more than the 84% of adults.2 Luckily, the percentage of Southeastern Idahoans without health care is decreasing, 21% to 13% between 2011 and 2015.3 Current efforts to expand Medicaid in Idaho will likely impact these numbers further and is something to keep an eye on in the next few years.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Recently, the creation of a new behavioral crisis facility in Bannock County expanded the availability of these services in the region. However, SEI needs more mental health professionals to help people with stress, depression, marital issues, and substance abuse. The average age of an Idahoan that committed suicide in 2016 was 47.4 Younger adults are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, and that rate is increasing. By 2015, one in twelve 18 to 25-year-olds thought about committing suicide. High school students in SEI are more likely to think and attempt suicide than nationally, which is a major concern.5
Illicit drug use is highest for 18 to 25-year-olds. However, Idahoans typically show lower rates of illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use than the nation. Disconcertingly, given the nationwide opioid crisis, Idahoans tend to have higher rates of misusing pain relievers. This has huge implications for the need and accessibility of substance abuse programs, crisis centers, and other treatment and management programs.
- Support efforts to identify and provide affordable health care.
- Provide education and messaging to reduce stigma around treatment for mental health and substance abuse in the community.
- Encourage efforts to increase mental health services and centers available to SEI counties.
- Promote continued funding for tobacco cessation efforts and resources and explore policy that would decrease the number of youth who use tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
- Invite workplaces to implement wellness programs to provide nutritious foods and encourage employees to be active.
- Develop more free and public greenspaces and other opportunities for physical fitness that is accessible for all community members.
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics Division of Public Health Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. 2014-2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. 2015
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Division of Public Health. Idaho Vital Statistics, 2016, Mortality 2015
- SAMHSA. Population Data/NSDUH. State Estimates
- SAMHSA. National Survey on Drug Use and Health