Local Trends

The term “behavioral health” describes a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being that affects how we think, feel, and act. (Center for Disease Control) More recently, trauma has been significantly linked to behavioral health needs, and how one feels about themselves and relates to others. Contributing factors to behavioral health needs in the District focuses on trauma, substance abuse, and adverse behaviors. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, persons who experienced four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) had 4- to 12-fold increased health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempt. The Sierra Kings Health Care District aims to partner with local stakeholders to invest in strategies to impact behavioral health throughout the District.

Priority III: Behavioral Health

Goal 2:
 Expand access to behavioral health services and supports.
  1. Increase the availability of behavioral health education and awareness.
  2. Increase the identification of undiagnosed behavioral health needs.
  3. Increase access to behavioral health interventions across disciplines.

Why This Matters

Behavioral health is a study of emotions, behaviors, and biology relating to a person’s mental wellbeing and their ability to function in everyday life. A person struggling with behavioral health may face stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, mood disorders, or other psychological concerns. Societal stigmas, and diminished access to support services, often cause these symptoms to go untreated and can result in maladaptive behaviors including alcohol and other substance abuse, criminal behaviors, and more complex mental health concerns. These behaviors can have damaging effects on the individual, family, and community.

There is a growing body of research that links many behavioral health disorders to trauma. The prevalence of trauma is far reaching. Roughly 50% of people diagnosed with a severe mental disability report childhood abuse. Over 60% of adults in substance abuse treatment programs report childhood abuse or neglect. And, 82% of people in residential treatment programs have histories of trauma. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Communities are most effective at impacting behavioral heath when service providers across disciplines are trained and well-versed in identifying signs and symptoms of behavioral health concerns. As such, attention to professional development and training about behavioral health among service providers from a variety of fields like education, social workers, health care providers, etc. increases early identification.

Upon identifying behavioral health concerns, most communities struggle with the availability of adequate services for treatment. This is particularly true in small rural communities. As such, increased access to behavioral health services and supports is critical to impacting behavioral health in a community.

Best Practices

The Sierra Kings Health Care District will prioritize the following best practices for funding:

  • Train physicians to recognize behavioral health issues and address mild to moderate issues
  • Increased local psychologist in person or via telemedicine
  • Community awareness to reduce the stigma associated with behavioral/mental health
  • Mental Health First Aid training for educators, first responders, health care staff, faith-based organizations, etc.
  • Trauma Informed Care/ACES training for educators, counselors, health care staff, faith-based communities etc.