Key Point

Nine identified behavioral health service gaps exist in the metro area including limited access to services, limited collaboration, and insufficient availability of support services.

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Let’s Break It Down

It’s hard to say what’s happening here, because local data is lacking.

More regularly collected, community-level data on behavioral health prevalence and access for children and adults is needed in order to fully understand how our community members are affected. There are many organizations providing behavioral health services in the area, but data to examine service usage and gaps that are specific to the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro (and collected on a consistent basis) is not available.

Why Does It Matter?

Not having access to needed support and services impacts all facets of a person's life.

Access to behavioral healthcare, regardless of healthcare coverage, is critical for treating people that have mental health condition or addiction. In addition, childhood trauma and other experiences that may harm a child's health may lead to behavioral health needs as adults. On top of that, not having access to behavioral health services may contribute to homelessness, unemployment, and other health-related issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that adults living with a serious mental health condition, on average, die 25 years earlier often due to treatable medical illnesses.

Often people who struggle with behavioral health disorders are viewed as being personally weak or broken. This perception may lead people to be fearful of talking about their disorder(s), or even accessing services. According to a 2007 CDC study, roughly one-third of people in both Iowa and Nebraska do not believe that people are caring and sympathetic to other people who have a mental health condition.

In 2014, a local study by the Behavioral Health Support Foundation found nine service gaps in the metro area. Based on these findings, providers from across the community are coming together to create strategies to address service gaps including fragmented service delivery, lack of treatment providers, access to care, and support systems for those experiencing behavioral health challenges.

How Do We Compare?

Nebraska and Iowa report fewer cases of mental health conditions than the national average, but we don’t have enough data to say how we compare locally.

However, we can look at state and national comparisons on the prevalence of mental health conditions. In 2012, 18% of Iowans and Nebraskans 18 years and older had a mental health condition that affects their daily life. This study excluded addiction. This is slightly lower than the national average of 19%.

Data Source: 2014 Tri-West Data Study, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), utilizing the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), CDC Attitudes Toward Mental Illness Survey, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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