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Mental Health Concerns in Pima - by Annalia Farren

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    • Annalia Farren at Pima Community College

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    Behavioral health was the leading cause of death in 2020 specifically for Pima County.This includes death by suicide and self-harm. 225 suicide deaths that same year, (“2021 Pima County”). I know we can change this. Many factors play into this, for example, lack of professional care, substance abuse, and just overall bad mental health.

    In 2018, 12.8% and 13% of Arizona and US adults reported having 14 or more days of inferior mental health. Compared to Pima reporting 13.6%. Mental health issues skyrocketed along with physical issues during and after the COVID-19 lockdowns. This was due to the decrease in access to care and help, along with the increase in solitude, loneliness, and substance use. Also in 2018, residents of Pima County had an average of 4.5 mentally unhealthy days per month. Compare this to the United States as a whole reporting at 3.8 days. Lack of services,resources, affordability, and transportation are all huge problems Pima faces. Just over 34% of residents live in rural areas which puts them at a greater risk for overall poor health, geographic isolation, lowered socioeconomic status, and higher rates of health risk behaviors (“2021 Pima County”).

    Health care workers are spread thin nowadays and can be scarce which is why not only Pima County struggles with access to care but many other places in the world as well. This is very unfortunate and a difficult issue to fix. We need more encouragement to join careers in the health field in addition to better circumstances and wages. The county has also put in place bus systems and trams open to the public to try and help with the transportation issue.Substance abuse was issued as the second most prioritized health concern next to behavioral health. In the year 2020, there were 446 overdose caused deaths, a 32% increase from 2019 in Pima County, which is double the overdose deaths in 2011. Fentanyl and methamphetamines were the most common drugs found in the deceased (“2021 Pima County”).

    Substance use disorder, (SUD), greatly worsened during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and is directly connected to the decrease in mental health and lack of care available. Help centers were shut down and are still slowly reopening, this caused a lot of people to be at risk to use and abuse substances. Arizona has pretty high drug using rates and Pima County is no exception.There are too many ways to buy drugs and not enough ways to get the help you need. Pima provides services like rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters, community food banks,prevention coalitions, community centers, and more. Unfortunately the number of drug users greatly outweighs the help that is available. Something needs to be done about drug access in Pima County; more prevention is needed to stop the start of using and abusing substances.

    Help can just be one click away. In today's time the internet has to be everyone's best friend because that is where we get most of our information. If you do not have internet access Pima County has a couple of libraries where you can access online and search your needs. There was a ton of good information and resources on the Pima County website itself. The County seems to have worked hard to provide sources and grant access to them but there is always more that could be done. For example we could have more billboards, posters, flyers, and open information to the public. Commercials, radio informationals, just more ways to be aware of the help that is out there without needing to do an internet search. The stigma around mental health needs to end as well. Getting help is nothing to feel embarrassed about and our society shouldn’t make people feel that way. Talking about mental health should be more common and less shied away from. It does not have to be so taboo when it could be a daily discussion that possibly saves lives.

    Work Cited

    “2021 Pima County Community Health Needs Assessment.” 2021. Pima County Health Department.

    This page titled Mental Health Concerns in Pima - by Annalia Farren is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Annalia Farren at Pima Community College.