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Yellowstone County health report addresses mental health and substance abuse

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Posted at 8:27 AM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-05 10:27:10-05

BILLINGS - Yellowstone County's latest health assessment indicates COVID-19 impacted residents financially, mentally and in avoiding health care.

The Yellowstone County Community Health Needs Assessment comes out every three years and there have been six since 2005.

The top health people from around Billings talked about the report at the Billings Public Library Royal Johnson Community Room on Wednesday.

Riverstone Health, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Health Care and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana used a survey to help determine community health

"One slide is the reason that all of us work together on this," Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said about one of the slides in the presentation. "These are the most vulnerable people in our community."

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Felton has been part of all six assessments and says poverty negatively affects health.

"We live in the richest, most incredible, greatest country in the history of the Earth," Felton said. "The fact that one person makes more money than another determines our health success. That can't be okay. We have got to solve that."

"Our lower-income population is certainly more at risk from a health and safety perspective," said Jennifer Graves, Rehabilitation Hospital Of Montana C.E.O.

The 213-page report includes four priorities:

  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse along with misuse and safety
  • Access to healthcare
  • Physical activity, nutrition, and weight

"One in three adults meet the physical activity recommendations of 150 minutes per week," Jennifer Anderfer, St. Vincent Healthcare president, said about one of the positives of the assessment. "And almost 60% of the children in the community are meeting the physical activity recommendation of at least one hour of activity per day."

The report states the Yellowstone County suicide rate is nearly two times the U.S. rate.

They say it will take the community to remove the stigma and improve access to mental health help.

"Emotional support from friends and from your family and co-workers, neighbors, that is a critical piece," said Dr. Clint Seger, Billings Clinic interim C.E.O.

"People that live in our community love our community," Felton said. "And one way to show that is make it a healthier, safer place for people to live."