HEALTH PRIORITY 1
MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Mental health identified as the top community health issue in Somerset County.
Respondents reported that they or someone in their family have experienced difficulty maintaining a good mental state since COVID-19.
Black survey respondents reported a substance abuse issue diagnosed by a health professional.
Among Somerset Community Health Needs Assessment Community Survey respondents, mental health was identified as the top community health concern, high stress lifestyle was the third, and substance use, abuse, and overdose was the fourth. Interviewees and focus group members noted that while mental health has been a longstanding health concern, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the issues of stress, isolation, and boredom more pressing. While mental health issues affected people of all ages, races, and genders, mental health concerns for seniors, parents and youth, LGBTQ persons, Latino residents, and low-income adults were highlighted in qualitative discussions. Additionally, focus group participants and interviewees highlighted several barriers to accessing mental health services including cost, wait times, and lack of bilingual providers. Similarly, several qualitative participants reported that substance use, particularly alcohol use, has increased over the past eighteen months, a consequence of the boredom, isolation, and anxiety caused by the pandemic. Alcohol, opioid, and marijuana use were highlighted as concerns for substance use; several interviewees described an increase in substance use among youth.
HOW WE’RE GETTING THERE
Prioritize mental health and substance use programing that is equitable and available without fear or judgment throughout Somerset County.
1.1: By December 2024, increase access to culturally appropriate mental health programming across the life span (youth, adults, and seniors) with an emphasis on traditionally underserved populations.
1.2: By December 2024, reduce stigma around mental health issues and substance use disorders.