KINGMAN – Big changes are often made by small groups, and community health is no different.
The first quarterly meeting for the Community Health Improvement Plan Wednesday, Aug. 22, provided updates on the three main priorities laid out in the CHIP: mental health, substance abuse and healthy living.
All of the groups provided positive reports, stating they had meetings and have started working out what needs to be done to accomplish the respective goals.
The mental health resource team reported they finished a resource guide and have an interactive presentation, which includes aspects addressing mental health stigma. Going forward, having more people trained on the presentation is a goal so more can go out into the community to give the presentation. Other successes for the mental health resource team include reaching out and connecting with other groups in the community, and implementing behavioral health screenings.
The committee focused on combating substance abuse also listed several key successes, including an upcoming opioid symposium to be held at Mohave Community College - Neal Campus in October. The Walk Away from Drugs event has also been a major success over the last 12 years, and is also going to be held in October.
Robert DeVries, chief of Kingman Police Department, reported an increase in the number of leftover prescriptions that have been taken in by dropboxes around the county. He reported a 22 percent increase over last year. As of June, these dropboxes have collected 311 pounds of extra medication.
DeVries also reported that NARCAN is being widely used across the county to help with potential opioid overdoses.
One of the biggest barriers to the substance abuse committee is going to be shifting attitudes toward users who need help.
“We have to shift the attitude away from apathy,” DeVries said.
The healthy living committee has had two meetings so far. They have been working on gathering information for a resource guide including educational classes and support groups. They have also been talking to people in the community about what they would like to see and have begun working on ways to increase interest in walking trail extensions in the area.
One of the biggest challenges this committee said it faces is simply a lack of interest in healthy living. At the events that have been hosted over the years by the Western Arizona Council of Governments, the attendance has just been low.
To combat that, the committee is hoping to host several events. One they suggested would be a chef competition where they give chefs a box of healthy ingredients and have them create something quick and simple so others can emulate it in their homes.
The largest barrier for these three committees is simply participation. Having people from the community who are willing to help, volunteer time and effort is key to these committees going forward.
Discussion on the development of resource guides for all the issues has been tabled for now. While no date has been specifically released, the next quarterly meeting will be held in November.
“We have a real opportunity to make a difference,” Teri Williams, director of communications and marketing at Kingman Regional Medical Center, said to the group.