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Cobb’s check-up finds rising mental health and addiction crisis

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Dec. 29 — The county faces rising drug use and mental health struggles, according to a new report from public health officials in Cobb, uncovered in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The Community Health Assessment, produced every five years by Cobb & Douglas Public Health, is a type of examination of the health status of the two counties. This year, for the first time since pre-pandemic, the huge 800-page document has gone all out.

Dr. Janet Memark, Director of CDPH, called the report a “snapshot to the health of our community,” assessing the major challenges facing the region and assessing mental health and addiction. are two.

One of the most startling facts is that Cobb, surveyed in the five-year period from 2016 to 2020, found that suicide was the second leading cause of premature death (years of life lost), with an estimated About 13 people have died.

The number of “mental health days” reported by residents remained relatively stable during that period, but started to increase in 2020.

CDPH Director of Health Equity and Community Engagement Jazmyn McCloud said:

Equally concerning, while hospital admissions for mental health problems have declined, overall deaths have increased, especially in 2019 and 2020, to nearly 16 per 100,000 people.

Between the stress caused by the pandemic, the loss of work and family, and the isolation it brought, “all of this has led to higher levels of anxiety and depression, as well as a range of mental and behavioral health problems. said Lisa. Crosman, Deputy Director of CDPH.

Closely linked to the mental health crisis is drug use, with 118 drug-related deaths between 2016 and 2020. As with mental health struggles, overdose emergency room visits declined during this period, but fatal overdoses he increased by more than 16%. .

Opioid deaths increased by about 70% statewide from 2010 to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“It was getting a little better, but now it seems to be getting worse again… This is a problem that has been around for a while and keeps changing its face little by little,” Memark said. “We went from prescription drug issues to heroin…and now it’s these synthetic opioids that are of great concern.”

Binge drinking in Cobb is more common than statewide or nationally, with 17.5% of adults reporting binge drinking in the past 30 days. The highest concentrations were in census blocks around Kennesaw and Vining.

Memark added that one of CDPH’s main focuses is public information, and that the agency will soon be hosting parent education events with local school districts.

“It’s frustrating to see so much attention and no improvement,” said Crosman.

Crossman added that education alone will not stop the tide. One of his goals for the division is to make naloxone (a drug that helps reverse opioid overdoses and is marketed under the brand name Narcan) more widely available. Crosman warned that Georgia residents can now obtain test strips for Narcan and fentanyl without a prescription under an ongoing order from the Department of Public Health.

“The idea is that if someone has an addiction, do what you can to keep them alive until they are ready for treatment and recovery,” Crosman said. By making Narkan available to officers (deputies)… and possibly in some motel lobbies where overdoses are seen, it helps reduce some of the fatalities.

R-east Cobb Rep. Sharon Cooper, who passed legislation to make Narkan available to first responders, agreed. However, treatment can be prohibitively expensive for some people, and in some cases, multiple uses may be necessary due to fentanyl overdoses, she added.

“It’s no longer your heroin addict that’s dying,” said Cooper, chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives Committee on Health and Human Services. It could be anyone, it could be your child, it could be your brother, it could be your brother.”

According to Crosman, one of the goals of community health assessments is to help the department understand where to focus its efforts.

“We have limited resources and we have so many needs across the county, so doing this helps us make real, data-driven decisions about where to focus our resources,” said Crossman. says Mr.

To that end, next year the CDPH will put together a strategic plan to put the report’s findings into action. One of his first steps, announced Wednesday, is a matching grant program of up to $25,000 to partners working on the challenges outlined in the report.

The full text of the Community Health Assessment can be found at: www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/publications/.

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