Building Hope Summit County sees mental health improve by comparing pre-pandemic data to recent results
Building Hope Summit County, a nonprofit mental health organization that provides resources for all demographic groups, has been successful in improving access to care and reducing stigma over the years.
Building Hope and community partners — the Summit Community Care Clinic, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office SMART program and many others — worked over the past year to create a data collection plan to help understand the collective impact of various efforts to transform the local behavioral health system.
New data, collected from Building Hope’s community survey, illustrates the changes from 2020 to 2022. The first survey ended in March 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, and the second spanned from February to April this year. Surveys were conducted in print, online and by telephone in English and Spanish for maximum representation.
A key takeaway was that Building Hope found some facets of behavioral health that have improved since 2020. For example, the average number of poor mental health days per month experienced by residents fell from 6.6 to 5 .0 between 2020 and 2022, respectively.
“I would like to attribute this to how we have made progress as a community in recognizing mental health and behavioral health as a major challenge that we want to address – and have really worked hard to address it, especially over the past few years. five years,” Laura Landrum, coordinator of the Building Hope youth program, said.
Landrum said some of the progress has come from initiatives like Fit to Recover classes, support groups, mini-grants and various programs funded by Summit County 1A Strong Futures money. Data from Building Hope showed that these funded community organizations treated more than 2,500 residents in 2021.
Another highlight is the percentage of residents who consume one or more beverages in a typical month, which has decreased by 5% since the start of 2020. Yet 45% of residents saw substance use negatively affect their or someone else’s life, and the amount of people who consider alcohol important for socializing in 2020 (41%) remained about the same in 2022 (42%).
“The fact that alcohol consumption has gone down from pre-pandemic levels, I think, is really remarkable,” Landrum said, adding that she could only guess at the reason.
Still, the group recognizes that it could do more when it comes to improving access. Over the past 12 months, Building Hope said 43% of residents needed mental health treatment or counselling, and if 68% of residents who sought treatment were able to get adequate care, that means that 32% could not.
The main barrier to support is cost and lack of insurance coverage, but Building Hope notes that more than 100 behavioral health providers accept grants from the nonprofit. These scholarships pay for up to 12 free therapy sessions, which Kellyn Ender, manager of the Building Hope mental health program, says costs about $85 each.
“Maybe people think accepting a scholarship isn’t for them, and they’re worried about taking on the needs of other people who might be less fortunate and things like that,” Ender said.
Landrum added that there was a shortage of vendors and that Building Hope was working to increase in-person access. The survey found that 78% of residents are open to behavioral health treatment via telehealth.
According to the survey, 68% of residents have someone in the community they can turn to if they need or want help, and 83% of Summit County teens feel connected to an adult in trust. However, the association is concerned that 36% of the inhabitants therefore feel alone.
The survey looked at how people devote time and effort to the community in relation to the length of time they reside in the area. Of those who have lived between one and five years at Summit, 47% agree that they have made an effort. This percentage then increases to 81% for residents who have lived longer at Summit, such as six to 10 years. However, the results dropped after this peak. The results drop to 56% for respondents who have lived in the area for 11 to 15 years. It rose to just 68% for respondents of those who have lived 16 years or more in Summit County.
Another discussion on Building Hope, focusing on racial equity and the behavioral health landscape, will take place on September 28 from 3-4 p.m. at a location yet to be determined. Interested attendees can visit BuildingHopeSummit.org for more information.