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Substance Abuse Doesn't Discriminate

According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 52.9 million Americans, ages 18 and older, experience a mental health or substance use challenge each year, said Katelyn Sigler, public health educator with the Barton County Health Department

“These problems do not discriminate and can affect persons in all walks of life no matter age, race or status,” she said, addressing the County Commission Wednesday morning as it prepared to approve a proclamation denoting this as National Prevention Week. She was be joined by Health Department’s Central Kansas Partnership task force members and area teens.

“Substance use and mental health problems affect all communities nationwide,” Sigler said.

Representatives from the Youth Crew, Rise Up Central Kansas and the Suicide Prevention Task Force took turns reading the proclamation.

According to the presentation:

• Kansas ranks 33rd out of 50 states with regard to the prevalence of mental health issues.

• Kansas is ranked 36th out of 50 states in terms of youth reporting at least one major depressive episode.

• 4.02% of youth in Kansas report having a substance abuse problem. The national average is 4.08% and of that, 1.64% are dealing with alcohol abuse while 3.16% have an illicit drug use disorder.

Closer to home, Kansas Health Matters reports that 15.4% of adults in Barton County binge drink, with 15% of residents in frequent mental distress and 23% of residents feeling they are in fair or poor health, Sigler said. But, “prevention programs and organizations are proving to be effective as prevention program data shows a decrease in mental health/substance abuse issues.”

There are a lot of community programs working together, the proclamation read. Among these are Central Kansas Partnership, Rise Up of Central Kansas, the Suicide Prevention Task Force and Glow For Life, along with the Barton County Health Department, Central Kansas Community Correction, the 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services and The Center of Counseling and Consultation.

These, joined by other area private and public providers, “have the power and the responsibility to make community change,” the proclamation reads.

“Citizens are urged to become more aware and be able to recognize the signs of mental health and substance use disorders. Equally important, citizens should help build community, strengthen resilience and create hope to keep those around them — and themselves — healthy and safe,” The proclamation continues.

“In recognition of the seriousness of substance use and mental health issues in our communities, the power of prevention, and the tireless efforts of those working to make a difference, we recognize, support and appreciate the programs and events that increase awareness of, and action around, mental health and/or substance use disorders.”

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