More than half of people participating in the 2022 Community Health Assessment rated mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress and suicide, as the most important health issue facing the region. confronted.
Second on the list was COVID-19, followed by alcohol, drug and opiate abuse.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how destructive it is when the health of our community is at risk. This community health assessment comes at an opportune time to allow us to reassess the broader health needs of our community and also identify the strengths we can leverage to meet those needs,” said Dr Olugbenga Obasanjo, director of the health district of the Rappahannock region.
For the first time, RAHD and Mary Washington Healthcare have partnered to perform the assessment, known as CHA. In addition to compiling the results of 1,978 survey responses, most of which were conducted online, the sponsors also obtained feedback from over 70 community organizations and collected various community health data.
People also read…
Nearly 99% of responses came from the local health district, which includes Fredericksburg and counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford. The rest were from areas served by Mary Washington, including Westmoreland County, eastern Orange County and southern Prince William County.
Participants were also asked to name the top three ways to improve the quality of life in the region and more mental health services ranked #2, after more affordable housing and ahead of good jobs and a healthy economy.
The CHA highlights the shortage of mental health care providers. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, throughout Virginia, there is a ratio of 1 mental health care provider, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist, for every 530 people.
Fredericksburg, which tends to be the hub of medical practices, has the best ratio of mental health care providers in the RAHD, 1 to 140 people. But the rate drops precipitously outside the city limits. It ranges from 1–1,140 people in Spotsylvania to 1–3,070 people in Caroline.
The survey also asked participants to name the region’s greatest strengths. A safe place to live got the most responses, followed by community diversity – social, cultural, religious and economic – followed by police, fire and rescue services.
Another question asked people what their top three risky behaviors were, and the survey said: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and not getting vaccinated.
ACH researchers went beyond the results to analyze the data by demographics and localities. They noticed several trends based on age and addresses.
For example, 18-29 year olds with an annual household income of less than $49,000 choose community diversity as the #1 answer instead of a safe place to live, which was the majority’s top choice. .
Fredericksburg residents, who also cited diversity as their top choice, were also the only residents to cite a “walking and cycling community” as a strength, according to CHA.
Spotsylvania respondents chose educational opportunities as their No. 1 and Stafford residents chose it as their second.
As for the influence of age, it was evident in the question about the most important health problem facing the region. People over 60 and African Americans chose COVID-19 as their first choice.
“This was not surprising as we know that older adults have been severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and we know that African Americans across the country have been disproportionately impacted by COVID infections. -19”, according to the report.
People over the age of 60 also opposed the majority, as they overwhelmingly chose not to get vaccinated as a high-risk behavior. King George was the only locality where getting vaccinated was not in the top 5 risky behaviors.
Responses also varied by income level. Those with an annual household income of less than $100,000 said affordable housing was the best way to improve quality of life. People with household incomes over $100,000 per year chose mental health and addictions services as their first choice for improving their lives.
Carolina residents tended to choose good jobs and a healthy economy as ways to improve their quality of life, while Fredericksburg residents were the only ones to rank ending homelessness in the top 5.
The CHA also includes a number of other educational, social and economic indicators, ranging from home ownership, cost of living and eviction rate by locality to number of schools, student-teacher ratios and the percentage of the population aged 25 and over. more, without a high school diploma.
Residents of the local health district are encouraged to read the report, available at vdh.virginia.gov/rappahannock, and comment until April 3. After that, the project moves into its second phase, the Community Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP, which includes developing a plan to address key health issues. The first meeting of the CHIP will be held from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday April 5, on a date to be announced later on the RAHD website.
All CHIP meetings are open to the public.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425