Every five years, Charlotte County community partners facilitate a Community Health and Needs Assessment (CHNA) to identify health disparities and barriers. In 2020, the CHNA identified the following top 5 health priority areas in Charlotte County: Child Abuse, Neglect, and Well-Being; Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Health and Trauma; Healthcare; Environment; Aging. From this assessment and the resulting data, Charlotte County created a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) to address and reduce these health disparities throughout the community. The CHIP is used by health and other government, educational, and human service agencies, in collaboration with community partners, to set priorities, coordinate action plans, and target resources. Charlotte County’s 2021-2025 CHIP utilizes community-wide efforts to address three priority health areas: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Mental Wellbeing and Substance Abuse, and Household Stability in order to improve community quality of life.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the traumatic events of childhood abuse and household dysfunction that a person experience before 18 years old1. ACEs vary in scope and impact, however, their effect on the human body during its most important stages of development is consistent and now clear. Unaddressed trauma and toxic stress lead to developmental delays for children, disability, chronic illness, early death, and astronomical economic loss to communities. Therefore, the importance of a community-wide effort to challenge one of the most under recognized public health crises of our lifetime cannot be overstated. Charlotte County residents experience or have experienced abuse, neglect, household dysfunction as well as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, parental divorce or death, domestic violence, and having incarcerated relatives. These increase the risk of poor health outcomes in Charlotte County residents and calls for a vigilant effort from the community to reduce ACEs and create a trauma informed community.
Mental Wellbeing and Substance Abuse: Behavioral health affects physical and overall health and includes mental health, substance abuse, and suicide risk. Behavioral health issues are symptoms of real, physical conditions occurring in the brain and can be addressed through mental health and mentorship programs, suicide prevention, and substance abuse interventions. Behavioral health plays a vital role in our well-being. With access to resources like mental health providers, residents can address their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Improving mental health and decreasing substance use has positive effects for both the individual and the community. In Charlotte County, residents continuously face the challenges of limited providers, lack of transportation, and lack of other resources to address their mental health and substance concerns.
Household Stability: The household should represent a place of safety, stability, and shelter and not a place of stress, strain, or insecurity. When residents struggle to afford a place to live, that financial strain makes it harder to make other healthy choices, like eating a healthy diet or seeing a doctor when you're sick. Moreover, disruptive events, like suddenly losing your home or domestic issues, can lead to negative impacts on health, such as losing a job or health insurance, dropping out of school, susceptibility of disease, or having mental health challenges. Housing and household stability is an enormous issue that has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and Hurricane Ian. The county is continuously working to reduce the health barriers and disparities that perpetuate an unstable household in order to improve the community’s overall wellbeing.
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Service Area: Charlotte County, Florida