Local Health Department Engagement in Access to Mental Health Services and Mental Health Policy or Advocacy Activities
Context: Mental health is a public health concern that requires national attention at the local levels. Major issues facing local health departments (LHDs) to actively engage in mental health activities include inadequate surveillance data and limited resources. This study assessed the levels of engagement in access to mental health services and mental health policy or advocacy activities by LHDs characteristics.
Methods: The study design is cross-sectional based on the national survey of LHDs. We analyzed the survey data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ 2016 profile study. Logistic regression was performed with six levels of engagement in mental health activities as the outcome measures.
Results: LHDs reported the highest engagement in assessed the gaps in access to mental health (50.44%), followed by implemented strategies to increase access to mental health (37.89%), implemented strategies to target underserved population (30.37%), evaluated strategies to target underserved population (29.29%), engaged in policy/advocacy to address mental health (27.47%), and lastly in addressed gaps through provision of mental health (17.45%). The decentralized, as well as medium size, LHDs were strongly associated with engagement in five of the six mental health activities. LHDs that had performed improvement processes were more likely to be engaged in all six mental health activities. LHDs were also more likely to be engaged in all mental health activities if they had behavioral health staff and in five of the six mental health activities if they had a hotline/call center for communication with the public.
Conclusions: Levels of engagement in mental health activities among LHDs was low in this study and varied by LHD characteristics. Intervention strategies include encouraging LHDs to actively engage in mental health activities, participate in the Public Health Accreditation Board accreditation program, and incentivize mental health workforce to retain them.
American Public Health Association Annual Conference
Ater, Abraham, Sushma Kurella, Gulzar H. Shah, Kristie Cason Waterfield.
"Local Health Department Engagement in Access to Mental Health Services and Mental Health Policy or Advocacy Activities."
Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health Sciences Faculty Presentations.