CEO Update: April is Stress Awareness Month

CEO Update: April is Stress Awareness Month

Heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, alcohol, substance misuse, mental health issues, and more can be the result of prolonged stress.  We all face stress in our lives and sometimes more than others.  Currently, students are experiencing social and emotional hurdles that interfere with their ability to learn and engage in their education.  Mental health concerns are particularly acute for communities of color, communities in poverty, and rural communities.

Anxiety among children ages 3 – 17 has increased 23% in Colorado from 7.5% in 2017/18 (to 9.2% in 2020-21).  Depression among this same age group and same timeframe has increased 27% from 3.3% to 4.2% and one-fifth of rural adults reported being depressed. Our frontier and rural communities have the highest rates of suicide at 28.1 per 100,000 in frontier and 26.9 per 100,000 in rural (compared to urban at 21.7 per 100,000 and 22.6 per 100,000 in Colorado).  Plus, we only have one mental health provider for every 1,282 residents in rural Colorado compared to one mental health provider for every 755 residents in urban. We must do better to ensure access to these vital services in our rural communities.  Without access to services or the means to access them, often people self-medicate leading to substance abuse from alcohol or drugs, leading to increases in emergency room visits for overdoses and leading to early death.  We must do better to ensure access to vital mental health services.

While heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and high blood pressure are more difficult to pinpoint stress as the cause, these diseases are certainly at concerning levels in our rural communities.  We must ensure continued access to care in our rural communities for the 719,343 people living in rural Colorado and for the hundreds of thousands that travel through or recreate in our rural communities.

To learn more about the state of rural health in Colorado please download our 2024 Snapshot of Rural Health.  To engage in ensuring access to care in our rural communities in Colorado please reach out to the Colorado Rural Health Center, your State Office of Rural Health.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *