HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A recent study shows that residents in Washington County need to work on three key areas to improve their overall health within the county, that includes mental health, obesity, and substance use drugs.
A health needs assessment completed every three years by the Healthy Washington County coalition shows not much has changed in the strengths and challenges in health within the past three years.
The coalition is made up of public and private organizations working to improve the health of people living in this community.
“What we see are the challenges I would look at as great opportunities. It pulls us together in this important work to tackle obesity, diabetes, and behavioral health concerns,” said Allen Twigg, Executive Director of Behavioral and Community Health Services for Meritus Health.
The top three concerns are mental health, obesity, and substance use.
“Those are things that we as a community they’re still struggling with,” said Danielle Stahl, Public Information Officer for Washington County Health Department.
The data shows since 2019 overweight adults increased by 3.3%, there’s an increase in overdose fatalities, and life expectancy dropped by 10 years because of overdose deaths and suicide.
“Everybody who lives, works, or comes to Washington County, who lives in this region should want to achieve success in this because we will all rise together in significant ways,” said Dr. Douglas Spotts, Chief Health Officer for Meritus Health.
There were also some improvements like a decrease in the mortality rate for heart disease, cancer, drunk driving, and the rate of opioid prescriptions being given by doctors.
“It’s great when we when we talk about a message of education, the need for early screening and detection,” said Twigg.
“When we have public health measures, improving and advocacy of the entire community, the population of the community is healthier and shifts to wellness and prevention,” said Spotts.
Now, “Healthy Washington County” is looking into several initiatives to tackle these issues.
“The Washington County has kind of launched Go for Bold which is a big tenure initiative to lose a million pounds by 2030. And part of that, too, is just the education piece, and getting resources out into the community so that people know it’s not just about weight loss, but it’s about healthy eating, and it’s about how they exercise it’s about, you know, having a healthy mental state too,” said Stahl.
The subcommittees under the Healthy Washington County coalition plan to meet in July with their plans to tackle the county’s health problem.
They also have a goal to have 4000 people sign up for their Go for Bold program, so far they have nearly 3000.