NIHCM Newsletter / March 2023
Teen Health Crisis
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2021.
Adolescent Mental Health & Wellbeing
A new CDC report points to record levels of violence, trauma, and mental health concerns for teenagers, with girls and LGBQ+ youth faring more poorly (the survey did not ask about transgender identity). The findings highlight how the pandemic made things worse for many kids.
- Violence: Violence puts adolescent lives at risk and can lead to mental health problems, risky behavior, and reduced academic success. The CDC report contains data on violence among high schoolers, including sexual violence, feeling unsafe at school, bullying, and cyberbullying.
- Technology: High use of social media is associated with mental health problems. Social media impacts how teens interact with one another during a developmentally important time in life. According to new research, limiting social media usage can make teens feel better about their body image.
- Supporting Mental Health: Young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are less likely to feel depressed with parental support. Additionally, public schools and states are taking steps to expand access to mental health services.
Resources & Initiatives:
- CDC’s What Works in Schools program is an evidence-based approach to creating safe and supportive environments and this resource on youth violence.
- This CDC resource shares information on preventing teen dating violence. This resource has answers to common questions on teen dating violence for professionals.
- The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation for Community & Health Advancement invests in community partners to expand mental health resources and access, reduce stigma, and connect people to care.
- Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is addressing mental health issues in the state.
- See NIHCM’s resources on behavioral health, including infographics on Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma and suicide risk among LGBTQ+ youth.
Substance Use: Trends & Treatment
Deaths due to substance use disorder (SUD) have risen during the pandemic. A study found that while drug use rose among adults, it dropped dramatically in youth. There is a need to address overdoses due to multiple drugs, primarily fentanyl’s involvement, and increase access to treatment services.
- Xylazine: The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the illegal importation of xylazine, a potent animal tranquilizer colloquially known as ‘tranq.’ Xylazine causes wounds so severe that they require amputation. Since the drug is a sedative, not an opioid, it doesn’t respond to standard opioid overdose reversal treatment. While xylazine’s true prevalence is unknown, it has been detected in 25% of drug samples in New York City.
- Treatment: In 2019, only 1 in 10 people received substance use treatment within the year. The federal government made it easier for clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, which could help reduce overdose deaths dramatically. It is still difficult for many people to access methadone for their addiction treatment.
- Alcohol: About 1 in 8 deaths among adults aged 20 to 64 years were attributable to excessive alcohol use. Researchers attributed about 40% of those deaths to acute causes, such as car crashes, but the remaining are related to chronic conditions, such as liver disease and cancer. Few people are referred to treatment for alcohol use disorder.
Resources & Initiatives:
- See NIHCM’s resources on substance use, including graphics on the stimulant crisis and the influence of fentanyl and the opioid crisis.
- This webinar, by NIHCM grantee, the Center for Health Journalism, discusses the next wave of the overdose crisis.
- Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia teamed up with the FBI and the West Virginia Department of Education to educate youth on the dangers of opioid use.
- As part of the Michigan Opioid Partnership, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan supports recovery community organizations dedicated to addressing gaps in service.
- Learn why experts recommend all parents to have Narcan available and more on teen fentanyl overdoses.
- CDC resources provide information about how alcohol use impacts health and the health effects of marijuana.
- This article by NIHCM grantee Native News Online discusses the high rates of mortality from overdose, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease among Native Americans.
In Other Public Health News…
Environmental Concerns: Last month, a train derailment in Ohio spilled more than 100,000 gallons of toxic chemicals and led to a controlled burn of the substances, polluting the air and water. While it may take years to understand the health effects of the spill on residents of the surrounding areas, at least one of the leaked chemicals is linked to increased risk of cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia. Shipments of the hazardous waste have led to contaminated water and soil in Texas and Michigan.
- Learn more about the Ohio train derailment with these graphics.
- STAT’s recent article explains chemicals found at the site of the spill and their impact on health.
Food Insecurity: On March 1, 2023, more than 30 million Americans faced the end of pandemic-era Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) boosts known as emergency allotments (EAs). Originally rolled out in April 2020 to address rising food insecurity, EAs increased food-stamp benefits. The looming “hunger cliff” is exacerbated by rising costs as groceries were 11.3% more expensive in January 2023 than the previous year.
Resources and Initiatives:
- Learn more about SNAP Emergency Allotments in each state with these fact sheets.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico recently delivered food to more than 1,000 people living on Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Native American tribe.
- Florida Blue recently awarded $3.73 million in grants to community-based programs that address barriers and strengthen local food security initiatives.
- Last month, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana sponsored 200,000 meals at food banks across the state.
- Learn more about food insecurity and health with NIHCM’s recent webinar and infographic.
COVID-19 & the Flu: A study found that vaccinating against the flu and COVID-19 reduced infections and hospitalizations. Individuals are now able to test for both illnesses at home with the first combination flu and COVID-19 which was recently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
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