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Between 2010 and 2013, the share of D.C. youth ages 12 to 17 who suffered a major depressive episode increased from 6.9 to 7.4 percent. The District hopes to reduce that number to below six percent, following a new framework released today by the D.C. Department of Health that identifies mental health as its no. 1 “priority topic.”
The “D.C. Healthy People 2020” report sets public-health goals for the District over the next four years. Officials intend for it to guide individuals as well as public and private organizations in managing community health, from cancer and asthma incidence to HIV and nutrition. DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt says in a statement that the benchmarks will help the District “increase partnerships, share best practices, and improve the effectiveness” of public-health programs.
Among the 13 priorities identified in the report, “mental health and mental disorders,” “injury and violence prevention,” and “access to health services” ranked first, second, and third, respectively. According to the report, D.C.’s suicide rate ticked up from 6.9 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 7.7 per 100,000 people in 2014; the 2020 goal is to get it down to five. To do so, DOH recommends better screening around childhood trauma and strengthening policies on school bullying.
As for violence, DOH notes that fatal injuries rose from 51.4 per 100,000 people in 2012 to 57.2 per 100,000 in 2014. A strategy to get lower that rate to 46.3 per 100,000 people by 2020 is to implement “transportation infrastructure improvements” for pedestrians and cyclists. (Notably, D.C. is trying to do so currently through its Vision Zero initiative.) With a greater than 50 percent spike between 2014 and 2015, homicides are front and center in this part of the report.
And within access to health services, the department cites that less than 75 percent of residents received preventative care in 2014—more than five percentage points below the 80.3 percent desired in 2020. Many of the recommendations to alleviate this issue involve better coordination among health-care providers and creating “standard quality measures.”
The report contains more than 150 health objectives and 85 “evidence-based” recommendations. You can read it here.