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Rural areas take the brunt of mental health and substance misuse

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Rural areas of the state have been hard hit when it comes to mental health and substance misuse according to a study of emergency department visits by the Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation (CHART) at the New Jersey Hospital Association.

The study looked at total emergency department visits for mental health diagnoses, which includes substance misuse and self-harm and it also analyzed the ED rate per 1,000 population and the five-year growth trend.

Among the key findings:

  • For total ED visits, Essex County topped the list at 79,484, followed by Camden (57,731) and Ocean (48,826).
  • When adjusted for population density, Salem County had the highest ED use rate of 146.42 per 1,000 population, followed by Cumberland (130.26) and Atlantic (129.09).
  • The highest growth rate from 2013 to 2017 was in Gloucester County, where mental health and substance misuse-related ED visits increased 132.5 percent, followed by Warren (98.82%) and Camden (98.47%).

“No community has gone untouched by the mental health and substance abuse crisis in our state, but now we have a broader perspective on the widespread impact. We see the areas of our state that might have fallen under the radar, where the need for strategic planning and placement of services is acutely needed,” Sean Hopkins, senior vice president of CHART said in a prepared statement.

The report examined the data broken down for substance use and self-harm diagnoses. Ocean, Essex and Camden counties topped the list for substance use cases by volume, while the top counties based on use rates were Atlantic, Salem and Warren. For self-harm, the top counties based on volume were Ocean, Essex and Morris, while Ocean, Atlantic and Warren counties were the top three based on use rates.

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Anthony Vecchione

Anthony Vecchione covers health care for NJBIZ. You can contact him at: Avecchione@njbiz.com.

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