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A look at Lewis & Clark County mental health statistics

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Posted at 3:20 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2022-01-02 21:56:15-05

HELENA — According to the Lewis & Clark County Community Health report, from 2015 to 2020, nearly 23 percent of the adult population in Montana have been diagnosed with depressive disorder, which is above the national average of 19 percent.

There are many factors for the difference between state and national percentages.

"There's a lot of stigma around mental health, and that's another component as to why we have such a big problem in Montana. Because we're a little bit of a pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of state," said Jess Hegstrom, Lewis and Clark Co. Public Health Educator.

Montanans also suffer from vitamin D deficiency, high elevation, and alcohol use, which are all pieces of the mental health puzzle of the state.

For Lewis and Clark County, the suicide mortality rate is 24 percent compared to the US, which is 14 percent. Public Health is working to lower the rate to 12.8 percent.

Whether it be training gun dealers at stores to recognize when someone is struggling or getting people to properly store medication, Public Health is working towards limiting access to lethal means.

"Lethal means postvention support and then getting people to the appropriate level of care, and that's not just us, that's also the mobile crisis response team that's crisis intervention team trained officers. So it's really about how we can all come together to support our community," said Hegstrom.

Hegstrom says it takes a community effort, which is why the Behavioral Health Systems Improvement Leadership Team combined with the Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council and Lewis and Clark County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

The groups are working towards a more informed community.

For the future, Public Health plans to create a crisis receiving and stabilization facility in 2022.

"Once that, we're able to take that to launch with community engagement from the mental health centers collaboration from you know, possibly peer support and the major players like the hospitals here. Then we can look into our next step, and so we will be fully focused on that in 2022," said Jolene Jennings, Lewis and Clark Public Health Behavioral Health Specialist.

In the meantime, there are steps people can take to ensure that if they are struggling they don't feel isolated.

"Being around people as much as possible if not in person communicating with individuals, your family, your friends, your neighbors, reaching out on the phone," said Jennings.

You can read the full Community Report here.

If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK Or text "MT" to 741 741.