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Assessment shows mental health, substance use as top health issues facing B-SB

Montana Standard - 3/24/2023

Mar. 24—Mental health and substance use were listed as the two top health issues identified as "major problems" in the Butte-Silver Bow 2023 Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment is published every three years.

Jay Doyle, president of St. James Healthcare, now part of Intermountain Healthcare, and Karen Maloughney, Butte-Silver Bow's health officer, presented the findings Thursday at the Butte hospital.

The assessment is based on 400 surveys with people in Butte-Silver Bow County — each entailing 20 to 25 minute interviews and containing more than 100 questions.

April Keippel, the community benefit program manager with Intermountain Healthcare, said the final sample was weighted in proportion to total population — meaning they included more surveys from heavily populated areas and fewer surveys from less populated areas, such as Ramsay, to accurately represent the county.

Following mental health and substance use, other top health issues include tobacco use, diabetes, cancer and nutrition, physical activity and weight, respectively.

In the report, 18.1% of participants self-identified as having fair or poor health, compared to 12.8% of Montana residents and 12.6% of national residents.

A higher percentage of women and low-income people were affected by adverse health conditions across the board in almost all categories.

When looking at age-adjusted mortality for select causes of death between 2018 and 2020 per 100,000 people, the assessment found that more Butte-Silver Bow residents had heart disease, lung disease and COVID-19 than the national average.

The assessment also found high blood pressure is prevalent in Butte-Silver Bow, with 37.4% of residents affected. This is higher than the percentage of Montana residents diagnosed with high blood pressure (29.5%), and similar to the U.S percentage (36.9%).

For stroke, Butte-Silver Bow came in at 25.2 residents per 100,000 having died, compared to 37.6 nationally. Doyle attributed some of this to the recent stroke awareness campaigns and programs the hospital has implemented.

Also, 84.9% of adults have at least one cardiovascular risk factor.

Although the number of residents with cancer (142 per 100,000) is better than the national number of 146.5, mortality is high for female breast cancer in Butte-Silver Bow, with 26.6% of residents having died from it as compared to 17.9% in Montana and 19.4% in the country.

However, screening levels for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers in B-SB are similar to state and U.S. levels at 73.8%, 74.1% and 73.3% of those screened for each cancer, respectively.

The number of overweight and obese people in the county is also higher than the state and national levels. In the county, 70.8% of residents are overweight or obese, compared to 64.6% in the state and 61% in the country.

In terms of meeting physical activity recommendations, Butte-Silver Bow comes ahead of the country for both adults and children. In 2023, 29.8% of Butte-Silver Bow adults reported meeting their physical activity recommendations, compared to 21.4% of the national population and 28.4% of Montana's population.

Also according to the assessment, 25.4% of the Butte-Silver Bow population is food insecure, compared to 34.1% of the national population. However, this number increases to more than 50% among low-income residents.

In terms of age-adjusted mortality for firearm-related deaths from 2018 to 2020 annual average deaths per 100,000 people, Butte-Silver Bow leads Montana and the U.S. with 24.7 firearm-related deaths in the county compared to 19.1 in the state and 12.5 in the country.

Maloughney also noted that 21.8% of surveyed households in Butte-Silver Bow have an unlocked firearm in or around their home, which is the lowest recorded number since 2014. Among households with children, this percentage is 13.5%.

Moving onto behavioral health, the number of Butte-Silver Bow residents who have experienced symptoms of chronic depression and have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder are both trending upward since 2014.

The percentage of Butte-Silver Bow's population who experienced symptoms of chronic depression is 37.1%, compared to 31.8% in 2020.

The percentage of Butte-Silver Bow's population diagnosed with a depressive disorder is 30%, compared to a state percentage of 22.6% and national percentage of 20.6%.

On substance use, 45.1% of Butte-Silver Bow residents have had their lives negatively affected by substance abuse. Butte-Silver Bow has also had 16.6 drug-related deaths per 100,000 people annually, higher than Montana's 9.2 people and similar to the nation's 15.8 people.

Doyle said a team will be formed with members from the Southwest Montana Community Health Center, the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and other interested outside groups to address the mental health issues here.



St. James Hospital


Intermountain Healthcare


Jay Doyle


Karen Maloughney


Butte-silver Bow 2023 Community Health Needs Assessment.


Butte-silver Bow Health Department












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