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Grand Rapids Emergency Hospital Visits Now Equal Detroit's

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Wonder whether marijuana psychosis events play a role in this grim statistic:

Michigan's health trends: mental health crisis worsens, according to GVSU researchers

Michigan's mental health crisis worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and has had consequential impacts on the state's suicide rate and drug overdose rate, according to faculty members from Grand Valley.

Erkmen Aslim and Daniel Montanera, assistant professors of economics from the Seidman College of Business, discussed their research into the health behaviors and trends of Michiganders at the 15th annual West Michigan Health Care Economic Forecast on February 9.

The event, hosted by GVSU's Kirkhof College of Nursing and Seidman College of Business, was held at the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health in Grand Rapids. It was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield/Blue Care Network and Priority Health.

Aslim said their figures collectively tell a disturbing story, particularly for people of color. The research team studied rates of people in West Michigan and the Detroit area who reported "poor mental health days" (at least 14 out of a month) along with rates of opioid overdoses and suicide rates. 

"It tells a story that mental health exasperation can be linked with more opioid use and a higher suicide rate," Aslim said.

According to researchers, people of color who live in West Michigan reported experiencing poor mental health in 2021 at nearly double the rate of the figure from 2019. (25.3% in 2021, 12.1% in 2019)

Aslim added that Michigan's suicide rate was slightly higher than the national average at 14.3 per 100,000 people, compared to a U.S. average of 14.1 per 100,000. 

He noted that opioid overdose deaths accounted for 82% of all drug overdose deaths in Michigan. Michigan's overdose rate is above the national average (26 per 100,000, compared to a U.S. rate of 24.7 per 100,000.)

Montanera said the number of emergency department visits in both Detroit and Grand Rapids spiked in 2021. He also said while Detroit has historically had above-average emergency department visits, for the first time, Grand Rapids nearly matched Detroit's number.

Detroit reported slightly more than 500 emergency department visits per 1,000 people in 2021. Grand Rapids showed slightly less than 500 visits per 1,000 people. The U.S. average in 2021 was less than 400 visits per 1,000 people.

"What used to be a Detroit problem is now a Michigan problem," Montanera said. "It's due to several factors: the COVID Delta variant, earlier cases of other viruses and more mental health visits to the emergency department."

Other health risk factors are noted below, with 2021 as the latest reporting year.
  • Use of e-cigarettes rose during the pandemic, especially among youth; 6% of West Michigan adults and nearly 8% of Detroit adults and 1 in 4 middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes.
  • There was a decrease in the number of people without access to health insurance; about 5% of people in both West Michigan and Detroit reported having no health insurance. Aslim said that figure will likely increase because of the number of people who were disenrolled from Medicaid after COVID waivers ended.
  • The percentage of people with chronic conditions (asthma, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer) was higher in Detroit than West Michigan, yet cancer and depressive disorders were more prevalent in West Michigan than Detroit.

For more information about health trends, view the Health Check report online.



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