Minnesota ranks best in the United States in the health of children and women, despite the disparities and stress

Minnesota ranks first among the US states for women’s and children’s health, despite rising stress, racial disparities, and a bit of a drinking problem.

United Health Foundation annual ranking He raised particular concern about increased stress and anxiety in all states, including Minnesota, where 19.7% of young adult women reported recurrent mental disorders in 2019-2020. That was an increase from 12.2% five years ago, according to the report released Wednesday morning.

Similar increases in child depression and anxiety prompted the Mintonka-based foundation to announce $3 million in pilot funding for programs in middle schools in Minnesota, North Carolina and Florida that increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma.

“Rates are going up and we know that the majority of mental health issues first appear at a very young age,” said Alison Malmon, executive director of Active Minds, a nonprofit mental health awareness and suicide prevention program that will be co-funded. Initiative. “We can’t wait until people are adults or even their twenties to talk about mental health.”

The United Health report was a mixed bag of news as it always has for Minnesota, which has ranked in the top 10 in previous years. The report aggregates the latest health data from various government and health sources into composite country rankings. United Health publishes similar reports for older adults and the population as a whole.

Minnesota’s top ranking this year was boosted by above-average levels of physical activity and sleep among women and children. The state also recorded some of the nation’s lowest levels of illicit drug use, high blood pressure in women, asthma, obesity and low birth weight in children.

The state’s greatest weakness was the worst racial disparity in high school graduates and the third-worst racial disparity in child poverty.

“All states have their strengths and all states have opportunities that can be improved,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of Individual Business and Employer Insurance Programs at United Health.

One in four adult females in Minnesota reported excessive drinking, making the state the fifth worst on this scale. Heavy drinking is defined as four drinks in one episode among women in the last 30 days, or eight or more drinks per week. Wisconsin has the worst rating in the country, with Iowa approaching.

Trends provide the context behind the ratings. Minnesota has improved its ranking since 2019 by lowering the teenage birth rate and the proportion of children who are overweight or obese.

Deteriorating mental health rates have raised concern, and have been explained only in part by the stress and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent data on recurrent mental health distress in women 18-44 years old was based on the results of the 2019-2020 survey, reflecting only the onset of the epidemic.

The report showed that the proportion of Minnesota residents ages 3 to 17 suffering from depression increased from 3.3% in 2017-2018 to 4.1% in 2020-2021. Minnesota had the eighteenth lowest rates of child depression in the most recent two-year period, which was mostly during the pandemic.

“It will take several more years for us to see the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in this data,” Randall said.

United Health’s funding will expand Active Minds programs primarily from high school to middle school, arming them with knowledge about how to recognize and respond to mental health concerns among their peers.

Most children who struggle, Mallon said, “tell a friend before they tell anyone else.” “We have an opportunity to make a difference for each other, simply by knowing the right words to say.”

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