Behavioral health

Ohio joins 40 states suing Meta over claims Instagram, Facebook damage youth mental health

More than 40 states, including Ohio, have filed suit in federal court against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, claiming that the social media company has harmed young people’s mental health – addicting them while misleading the public about the platforms' safety (Source: “Ohio joins 40 states suing Meta alleging that Instagram and Facebook are harmful for kids,” Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 24).
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the states allege that the company has profited in how it has designed Instagram and Facebook to maximize time spent on the platforms by teens and children, which led to increased advertising revenue.
The suit cites several studies including Meta’s own research showing links between young people's use of Instagram and Facebook with depression, anxiety and other health issues. 

Construction, restaurant workers most likely to die from drug overdose, new CDC data finds

In a first-of-its-kind look at the link between drug overdose deaths and certain occupations, new CDC data shows that 1 out of every 5 people who died of an overdose in 2020 usually worked in construction or restaurants (Source: “The depressing relationship between your job and your odds of drug overdose,” Washington Post, Oct. 6).

According to the new CDC National Vital Statistics report, overdoses killed 163 of every 100,000 people who usually worked in construction and extraction in 2020, whether they were on the job or not, making it by far the most dangerous major occupation, drug-wise. Restaurant jobs were second at 118 deaths per 100,000, according to new data.

This is the first time the CDC has published such comprehensive and detailed numbers linking jobs and overdoses, which the authors separately wrote was made possible by “funeral directors across the country who take time to speak with decedents’ loved ones and record [industry and occupation] on the death certificate.”

The report found that the safest jobs in the country, in terms of likelihood of overdose deaths were education and computer work, where 6 and 9 people per 100,000 died, respectively.

“Occupations with the largest rates of overdoses are also generally ones that require a lot of physical mobility/strength,” University of Southern California health economist Rosalie Liccardo Pacula told the Washington Post. “Many workers in these positions develop chronic pain conditions. Chronic pain is the leading reason why people use opioids long-term, and those with long-term use are now facing greater hurdles maintaining access to their opioid prescriptions in light of changing medical recommendations … so they may be more likely to turn to the illegal market.”

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Consistent with national research findings and previous HPIO work, new analysis from the Institute finds that Ohioans who reported experiencing more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were also more likely to report negative outcomes that contribute to poor health. For example, as illustrated above, the percent of Ohioans who were exposed to two or more ACEs were almost twice as likely to smoke (23%) as those exposed to no ACEs (13%). Similarly, the percent of Ohioans with depression who were exposed to two or more ACEs (34%) was more than three times higher than Ohioans with depression who reported no ACEs (11%).

Exposure to ACEs affects many children in Ohio and across the country. National data and analysis provide clear evidence that ACEs exposure is linked to poor health and well-being through adulthood, including disrupted neurodevelopment, social problems, disease, disability and premature death. In addition, ACEs exposure has severe long-term cost implications at the individual and societal levels, including increased medical, child welfare, criminal justice and special education expenditures. However, the negative effects of ACEs can be mitigated. HPIO has presented 12 key strategies to intervene early and prevent the poor health outcomes associated with ACEs.

Click here to learn more about HPIO’s Ohio ACEs Impact project

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Earlier this summer, public health nonprofit the Truth Initiative released a new report on “Tobacco Nation,” the 12 contiguous states (including Ohio) that have smoking rates that are 50% higher than the national average. This list of states overlaps substantially with the states ranked in the bottom quartile for population health in HPIO's 2023 Health Value Dashboard. In fact, 11 of the 13 bottom quartile states are part of Tobacco Nation, as illustrated above.

Analysis from HPIO has found a strong link between smoking rates and overall population health and healthcare spending. Ohio reports higher rates of adult smoking than most other states (ranking near the bottom at 44th) and Dashboard analysis “found a strong correlation between adult smoking and health value, indicating that tobacco use is a leading driver of poor health and higher healthcare spending.” 

Previous analysis by HPIO also supports the link between tobacco use, population health and healthcare spending, “States with a lower adult smoking rate are more likely to have a better health value rank— meaning better population health outcomes and lower healthcare spending,” the analysis found.

All of HPIO’s work related to tobacco is available on the Institute’s website.

New data shows overdose deaths soared even after pain prescriptions fell

The number of prescription opioid pain pills shipped in the United States plummeted nearly 45% between 2011 and 2019, new federal data shows, even as fatal overdoses rose to record levels as users increasingly used heroin, and then illegal fentanyl (Source: “Overdoses soared even as prescription pain pills plunged,” Washington Post, Sept. 12).

The data confirms what’s long been known about the arc of the nation’s addiction crisis: Users first got hooked by pain pills saturating the nation, then turned to cheaper and more readily available street drugs after law enforcement crackdowns, public outcry and changes in how the medical community views prescribing opioids to treat pain.
The drug industry transaction data, collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration and released by attorneys involved in the massive litigation against opioid industry players, reveals that the number of prescription hydrocodone and oxycodone pills peaked in 2011 at 12.8 billion pills, and dropped to fewer than 7.1 billion by 2019. Shipments of potent 80-milligram oxycodone pills dropped 92% in 2019 from their peak a decade earlier.

Many of the counties with the highest fentanyl death rates — in hard-hit states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio — started out with alarmingly high doses of prescription pills per capita, according to a Washington Post analysis of the DEA data and federal death records.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month and new data analysis from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found that mental health challenges increased for high school students in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particularly striking increase among female high school students.

According to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Ohio high school teens reported increases from 2019 to 2021 in feeling sad or hopeless, seriously considering suicide, making a plan to attempt suicide, attempting suicide and having a suicide attempt that resulted in being treated by a doctor or nurse.

However, the increases for female teens were drastically higher than for males, as illustrated above. Attempted suicides among female students increased by 148% between 2019 and 2021, compared to a 51% decrease for males. And attempts resulting in treatment from a medical professional increased 33% for females and dropped 81% for males during the same time period.

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 to get in touch with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 

National study: Binge drinking, cannabis use reach record levels among middle-aged adults

Binge drinking, vaping, cannabis use and hallucinogen consumption reached an all-time high among adults in the U.S. last year, reflecting a significant upward trajectory in substance use in recent years (Source: “Middle-aged US adults binge drinking, using marijuana at record levels, new study finds,” USA Today, Aug. 18).
New research from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future (MTF) panel found that adults ages 35 to 50 are using cannabis and hallucinogens at record levels. Binge drinking had spiked to the "highest prevalence...ever recorded for this age group," the study reported.
For younger adults ages 19 to 30, cannabis use and nicotine vaping saw a sharp increase in the past five years, climbing to their highest levels ever seen.
"Substance use is not limited to teens and young adults, and these data help us understand how people use drugs across the lifespan," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a news release.

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HPIO’s 2023 Health Value Dashboard found that one way health value in Ohio can be improved is by fostering mental well-being. Ohio leaders can build on lessons learned from the response to the addiction crisis over the past decade to make Ohio a national leader in behavioral health.

Dashboard data shows that rates of overdose deaths and suicides vary by county (as illustrated above). To support resilience, well-being and recovery in Ohio, the state can target and tailor resources where they are needed most.
“Across the U.S. and in Ohio, the toll of behavioral health crises continues to rise, including increases in drug overdose and suicide deaths,” according to the Dashboard. However, the state does have strengths upon which to address the issue. “The state has also improved overall access to care over the past decade, which is an important advantage to getting more Ohioans the help they need.”

Survey: Nearly 9 of 10 young adults have mental health challenges

Nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. teens and young adults say they experience mental health challenges regularly, according to a national survey released this week (Source: “Nearly 90% of teens and young adults have mental health challenges, survey finds,” San Francisco Chronicle via MSN, Aug. 3).

The poll, conducted by Harris Poll and health insurer Blue Shield of California, found that 87% of people ages 14 to 25 say they have mental health challenges on a regular basis. It was conducted May 31 to June 13 and included responses from 1,368 people.

It’s not clear whether this marks an improvement or worsening of youth mental health compared with previous years because it’s the first year Blue Shield has done a survey that worded the question this way.

Suicides up in Ohio in 2021, ODH reports

The number of Ohioans who died by suicide increased in 2021, according to new data from the Ohio Department of Health (Source: “Ohio suicides increased in 2021, according to new Ohio Department of Health report,” Ohio Capital Journal, June 2). 

Suicide deaths in Ohio increased 8% to 1,766 deaths from 2020 to 2021 — meaning five Ohioans die by suicide every day, according to ODH’s Suicide Demographics and Trends 2021 report

Suicide was the 12th-leading cause of death in Ohio and second-leading cause of death for Ohioans ages 10-34 years in 2021, according to the report. Females accounted for 19% of suicide deaths and men accounted for 81% of suicide deaths.

Firearms were involved in more than half of all suicide deaths. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 to get in touch with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.