One in 10 people in Nebraska county report mental health concerns, survey finds

KEARNEY — Buffalo County residents generally report good mental health, minimal drug use, reduced weight and buckling up for safety.

But one in five residents regularly assist someone with a health problem or disability. One in 10 report mental health concerns that impair normal activities, and 42 percent keep leftover prescription pain medications.

Those are the results of a mental health adult questionnaire taken a year ago by 996 Buffalo County residents. The online survey was offered by Buffalo County Community Partners and administered by University of Nebraska at Kearney political science professors .

The survey was modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. BCCP commissions the survey every two years.

“The results are a snapshot of current health indicators,” Emily Baughman, BCCP data coordinator, said.

BCCP board member Ron Dobesh said that 39.8 percent of Americans reported a BMI of 30 or above, according to the CDC’s 2017 figures. Figures for Nebraska put the obesity rate between 30 percent and 35 percent, which is similar to surrounding states.

Contrary to advertisements, there is no quick fix to obesity, Dobesh said. Healthier diets, more physical activity and fewer processed foods are critical, but genetics, gender and educational background also play roles, he said.

The survey also noted that persons aged 19-24 reported higher rates of depression than other age groups, as did women compared to men. Beth Baxter, who is with Region 3 Behavioral Health Services, said measures are in place to help treat this, including educational opportunities on mental health first aid; care that addresses trauma; a focus on suicide prevention and helping people find assistance to improve their mental health.

“Our organization is celebrating the decline of obesity,” Baughman said. “Continued efforts to improve mental wellness, and provide more information about prescription misuse will improve our community’s health indicators.”

BCCP aims to reduce the misuse of prescription medications by urging the public to return unused medications to a local pharmacy or to periodic take-back events.

To see results of the 2018 Mental Health Adult Status Questionnaire reports, visit BCCHP.org/Assessments. BCCP also invites volunteers to assist with mental and physical wellness issues and projects. Visit BCCHP.org/Volunteer.

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