The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s community health assessment revealed while the county has improved in some health aspects, others are showing “disturbing” trends.
The data, collected from 552 adults, 474 youth and 371 children, was broken down into three age categories: adults (19 years and older), youth (12 to 18 years) and children (0 to 11 years).
In the good news, Huron County’s dental hygiene continues to get better with 62 percent of adults visiting the dentist in the past year (up 5 percent in five years) and just 19 percent of those 65 years and older reported having all of their permanent teeth removed (down from 27 percent last year.)
Of those interviewed, 55 percent rated their general health as “excellent” or “very good” (up 3 percent over last year), however, the number of those reporting mental health as “not good” on four or more days in the past month increased significantly — rising by 10 percent over last year, now representing about a third of the county.
Correlating with that data are the adult’s mental health assessments. Four percent of adults (up one percent) said they have considered suicide in the past year and 11 percent (up from 8 in 2007) said they have felt sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row.
“This is, unfortunately, significantly higher than years past,” said Bellevue Hospital president Mike Winthrop. “Again this is above the state and national average and income does have a significant effect in many things (regarding mental health).”
Of all adults interviewed, 16 percent made less than $25,000, meaning they fall below the poverty line. Income had a strong correlation with poor health practices and is a continuing issue for the county.
“We’re not doing anything to lift ourselves out of this situation,” Huron County health commissioner Tim Hollinger said. “(Our financial assistance programs) are just helping them get by and survive another day. It’s only helping them to survive; not helping them get out of the situation they’re in.”
In fact, in a related, but separate survey conducted by Huron County Public Health, 150 of 322 adults surveyed (47 percent) said money had a “big impact” on their lives. The second largest factor, in kind, was income.
The health department’s survey also revealed those surveyed felt the county’s worst qualities were its drug problems (58 percent), lack of employment opportunities (6 percent), the roads (3 percent) and politics (2 percent).
It’s best qualities were ranked as its community/social aspect (39 percent), small community/rural living (23 percent) and community organization (12 percent).
While some numbers in the report may seem insignificant, council community health improvement coordinator Tessa Elliot said every percent counts and effects the community.
“You might say ‘That’s one percent; that’s not really an issue here,’” she said.
“But that’s one percent — that’s potentially 430 people that were affected by that issue. So if the youth are affected by something, for one percent you’re looking at 164 youths in your community that are effected by that. One percent isn’t any small thing to just kind of throw away.”
Among the most shocking data from the council’s assessment came from areas involving alcohol use and the county’s sexual activity. More information on these areas and other including bullying, tobacco and substance abuse will be published in follow-up articles.