Agencies discuss health survey

Assessment shows issues faced in Champaign County.

URBANA — Local agencies gathered Friday to pool their resources and tackle a handful of health issues faced by county residents, including substance abuse, mental health services and physical activity.

The work session, under the direction of the Champaign Health District, was the result of a health assessment that polled more than 400 residents in the county on a wide variety of topics regarding their health.

Among its findings, the survey showed more than 70 percent of adults polled in the county were either overweight or obese, according to a Body Mass Index graph.

The survey also included more positive information, including that 95 percent of middle school students said they have never tried marijuana.

One of the issues discussed Friday was finding what resources are available to help children and adults become more physically active and eat more nutritious meals.

“We’re hopeful that our partners will use this data as they write for grants,” said Shelia Hiddleson, director of the Champaign Health District.

Representatives from several local agencies broke into groups to define the challenges the county is facing.

Although mental health services are available to young children, Hiddleson said it is not always easy for parents to connect their children to the right agency or service.

That particular issue wasn’t addressed in detail in the health assessment, but was brought to the forefront while local health professionals gathered earlier this year to review the results.

“Sometimes we have a sense that something is going on and we need to go from there,” Hiddleson said.

The Champaign Health Department is working closely with Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs. Jane Dockery, associate director of the center, said graduate students will research best practices in other counties to see if programs exist that could be put in use locally.

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