How do we set regional health priorities? And how do we coordinate among the many regional public health activities to make a difference in the health of the Monadnock Region’s population?
These are big questions that are addressed by a new report, Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) — the first report of its kind for our Region — that will help provide a framework to identify, define and provide strategic direction for the Region’s priority health improvement areas.
The 63-page comprehensive plan (read the full report here) was developed for the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network (GMPHN) by the Council for a Healthier Community (CHC) with assistance from the Southwest Region Planning Commission. The CHC actively supports the work of Healthy Monadnock, a community initiative to foster and sustain a positive culture of health in the Monadnock Region.
Identifying the Top Priorities
The report compiles data and statistics from numerous sources (such as the Centers for Disease Control, Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey, Office of the Surgeon General, NH Health Wisdom Database, among others) to paint of picture of the health status of our population.
The goal is to be able to document any measured improvement in the five identified priority areas in the coming years, which include:
- Behavioral health
- Tobacco use
- Substance and alcohol misuse
- Emergency preparedness
Mary Lee Greaves, a public health nurse liaison for New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, Department of Health and Human Services, who also serves as the chair of the Council for Healthiest Community, says the report is intended to be a living document that will help address these chronic issues in our community, and even identify new priorities as time goes on.
Behavioral Health a Major Concern
Behavioral health, or mental wellbeing, is a top concern, the report notes. Recent data shows that there is a significant need for increased support for behavioral health services in the Region.
A community needs survey conducted by Southwestern Community Services in 2015 identified the need for more mental health services as the second highest need in the Region, closely preceded by substance abuse and addiction services.
According to Healthy Monadnock, the percentage of the Region’s population experiencing frequent mental health distress — which is defined as 14 or more poor mental health days per month — increased from an estimated 8 percent of the population in 2005 to 13.7 percent of the population in 2010.
This comprehensive document is just the first step in addressing some of these chronic issues facing our region. This first-of-its kind document is an invaluable resource that can be used by a wide variety of organizations to inform our own health-related strategic planning and better align our efforts with existing work.
The report can also be used as a resource to region government officials, employers, planners and others to learn about and measure progress toward important health targets.
Take a look at the report, and let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Download a copy of the report here.