As daily COVID-19 cases in Douglas County decline, and local mask mandates are lifted, the Douglas County Board of Health turned its attention toward mental health illnesses which are on the rise. At Wednesday’s monthly meeting, CEO of The Wellbeing Partners, Sarah Sjolie, shared the latest data from her project, “Mental Health Stigma Reduction,” at the Board of Health meeting Wednesday morning, Feb. 16. Sjolie said the number of mental health issues in Omaha has increased significantly since 2018.
“We know, of course, the pandemic plays a ginormous role in all the socio-ecological things that have happened to all of us,” Sjolie said.
The Wellbeing Partners’ survey found 48.4% of participants said most people in their community have experienced trauma due to the pandemic. Only 1.5% of participants believe no one in their community has experienced trauma. Sjolie said mental health is the largest issue for people of Omaha, according to their data and surveys.
“That’s important because we, as public health experts, don’t want to be working on something that the public doesn’t believe is the biggest need,” Sjolie said.
Dr. Lindsay Huse, Director of the Douglas County Health Department, also shared the latest local COVID-19 data, which showed a decrease in cases throughout the city. The seven-day average had dropped to 195.5 positive cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday. The overall number of hospitalizations due to COVID has decreased, and the hospital occupancy has stabilized at about 85%. Both those metrics met the department’s standards to lift a local mask mandate for Omaha later that day.
Huse encouraged people to get the vaccine to avoid hospitalizations as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 persists in Omaha.
“The vaccine is still working really well for keeping people out of the hospital and having really severe illness,” Huse said.
The Douglas County Health Department is still offering vaccines at schools and other locations throughout the community. They are continuing to work with their partners of North and South Omaha to make the vaccine and other resources available in those communities.
contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org