Health Resources Focus on Mental Health, Pandemic Effects
A perennial community strength, area collaboration efforts have thrived in response to the pandemic and to the needs identified by community health assessments in 2019, according to a new white paper released today on community health from the Community Focus Report.
This year, the Community Focus Report—the biennial report card of strengths and challenges in Springfield and Greene County—is releasing detailed white papers focused on the 11 key areas ahead of the printed report, which will be released on Oct. 21.
Collaborative efforts remain a Blue Ribbon and are likely a key reason the community's overall health has improved. According to the 2021 County Health Rankings, Greene County ranked 42nd out of 115 Missouri counties compared to ranking 61st in 2018 and 2019. Still, there is work to do for the community to return to pre-2018 levels ranked in the 30s.
Collaboration was especially evident following 2019's Community Mental Health Assessment, which identified access to behavioral health and substance abuse services as a key area need. Partners from healthcare, behavioral health and the criminal justice system worked together to launch the Behavioral Crisis Center-Rapid Access Unit. Burrell Behavioral Health opened the first-in-the-region facility in June 2020 for treatment of crisis-level mental health or substance use. In its first year, the RAU provided care to nearly 1,500 individuals. Despite progress, there continue to be Red Flags around mental health including one identified need in perinatal mental health. An effort to improve access to resources is underway through the Maternal Mental Health Network, created by numerous area partners.
COVID-19 has significantly affected mental health in our community, a Red Flag in this year's report. The pandemic not only causes illness and death, it has disrupted many lives. Yet it also has created new community dialog, leading to a reduction in the stigma associated with seeking care for mental health, and new resources for area citizens including the Be Well Community, a free and public Facebook-based resource created by Burrell.
In addition, collaboration was evident among public health experts and local providers working to control and contain the virus through multiple efforts. For instance, CoxHealth, Jordan Valley, Mercy and the health department worked together to deploy a community testing site for COVID-19. Health-care systems completed expansions and transformed areas of their facilities into COVID-19 units, plus worked together to distribute the vaccine. Despite backlash from anti-vaccination residents and out-of-town protesters during the summer 2021 virus surge, many community members responded throughout the pandemic by providing housing, food, child care services, care for the ill and support for health care workers.
More people 18-64 in Greene County have gotten health insurance, although 13.09 % of the population still has no health coverage, making access to medical care a Red Flag. Within the city limits of Springfield, the percentage of people without no health coverage rose in 2019 to almost 17%.
The complete list of Blue Ribbons and Red Flags for Early Childhood can be found in the white paper.
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