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Home » Livingston County » EXCLUSIVE: Top health issues for people in the FLX include mental health and opioid use, per report

EXCLUSIVE: Top health issues for people in the FLX include mental health and opioid use, per report

  • / Updated:
  • Rebecca Swift 

A new report is identifying some of the biggest health issues facing our region. The Comprehensive Regional Community Health Assessment by Common Ground Health drills down on some of the most-pressing health issues those in the Finger Lakes region face. 

“This is an incredible collection of health data that has been produced by our agency and by the public health departments in Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates Counties,” said CEO Wade Norwood. “I really consider it to be the Bible. It allows us an at-a-glance look at what is going on with regard to the health of the folks who live in the Finger Lakes Region. What is really exciting, is that this document has a place in state regulation and statute. These county-level health assessments led by each public health department is really what informs each county’s health improvement plans. It connects to state policy and state spending. And it’s rooted in the facts on the ground in each of the counties.”

Common ground is a regional health entity four the nine-county Finger Lakes Region.  It’s a 501(c)(3) focused on the region’s health issues through research, data analytics, community engagement and partnerships.

What were the three big takeaways?

One is how the region is growing older as the population overall is shrinking.

Another issue, Norwood explained, is mental health.

“What we know is that the data shows that there is a rise in the number of people who are reporting and seeking help for depression,” he added. “I am hoping it’s a sign of our getting access equity for mental health services. But I’m afraid the increase for the demand for mental and emotional support is occurring at a time where the workforce is the most stretched that we’ve seen.”

The third biggest conversation revolves around the rates of opioid overdose deaths. Admissions into state programs have doubled from 2010-2019, according to Common Ground. 

“It is very clear that there are sad indicators of the mental and emotional health needs of the region,” he said. “And of the crippling power of addiction across a number of different chemical dependencies. That requires us to continue to double our efforts. We can see issues of addiction among older adults, feelings of isolation and alienation among older adults.”

What can be done?

Address the root causes, instead of the symptoms, Norwood said.

“We need to better connect the clinical approach with the community approach,” he added. “Patients need help. That older adult living at home could remain at home if we had the right community supports. and that’s what our county offices of the aging strive to do, with very limited support from the state. If we as a region can better model how community and clinical partnerships come together to support people, we come to understand how these community supports are wise investments.”

Common Ground will provide a follow up when a regional health survey to get some qualitative data in late Spring.