Dr. Stephen Sills (Center for Housing and Community Studies) has received new funding from the Sandhills Center Local Management Entity for the project “Providing Technical Assistance to Partnership for Success Sites Identification of Behavioral Health Disparities.” This project is supported by funds from North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).The abstract states: Healthy People 2020 defines a health disparity as a “particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.” Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illness, disability and premature death can have varying impacts on different populations, recognizing that eliminating disparities can significantly reduce direct and indirect medical costs. There is also a recognition that addressing disparities involves achieving health equity which is defined as “the attainment of the highest level of health possible for all groups.” According to SAMHSA, to “achieve health equity, communities must work to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and existing health and health care disparities”. Therefore, disparities exist within a context of the overall functioning of the community or larger society and are related to factors such as bias and poverty. This type of work can be challenging because it does address often long held beliefs and practices that can compel individuals to recognize these beliefs and possible implicit bias.
UNCG will provide support to North Carolina Partnership for Success sites to address behavioral health disparities by helping them to: 1. Define behavioral health disparities; 2. Describe factors that contribute to behavioral health disparities; 3. Describe the local, state, and national data on behavioral health disparities and what is know on prescription drug misuse; 4. Define methods for locally determining behavioral health disparities in prescription drug misuse; and to 5. Define methods for dissemination of information on local behavioral health disparities related to prescription drug misuse.