Earlier in the month, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Health Disparities Council, now chaired by Byron Rushing and Susan Fargo of the General Court, and trying to develop a coherent set of recommendations for the Commonwealth on what steps the government should take to reduce and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities. The Department recently released "A Profile of Health Among Massachusetts Adults, 2007: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System", downloadable as a .pdf and chock for of interesting data; but still, there seems to be little which relates to disparities in mental health treatment and outcome. It seems most interesting to look at this from the standpoint of what DID they measure:
Marker over Time Trend Gap vs. Af-Am Gap vs. HispanicFair/poor health Same Persists Persists% insured Better Persists PersistsDisability Better Persists PersistsSmoking Better Closing ClosingObesity Worse Persists PersistsPhysical active Better Persists PersistsCholesterol Same Closed N/ADiabetes Worse Worse WorseScreening Better Closed Closed
(Turns out to be hard to put a table on a blog, but you get the idea) With the usual public health indicators, you can see that we made a bit of progress on cigarette smoking, access to care and screening, and have some work to do on diabetes and overweight. But what about depression treatment? What about ADHD? How can we measure the disparities?
My notes from the session point out that there were a few indicators that suggest few disparities in mental health care:
"Two bits relevant to mental health: Poor mental health no gap, re drinking whites worse."
We need some data on this if we are going to change it. A thought for the future. Got to go eat chile now. Happy New Year!