Behavioral Health

How are we doing?

In 2015, residents living in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) reported 3.9 poor mental health days each month. This tied Tucson with the Portland MSA for last place among the 12 western metros explored on the MAP. Austin ranked first with 3.1 poor mental health days reported by its residents, followed by San Antonio and Denver with 3.3 days reported.

Why is it important?

Behavioral health, just like physical activity, is a key part of a person’s well-being. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) behavioral health problems include substance use disorders; alcohol and drug addiction; and serious psychological distress, suicide, and mental disorders. Further, SAMHSA states that behavioral health also describes service systems that encompass prevention and promotion of emotional health; prevention of mental and substance use disorders; treatments and services for mental and substance use disorders; and recovery support.

Behavioral health conditions can affect an individual’s health, longevity, and productivity. They not only impact the individual who struggles with them daily, but also our local community. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality cites a cost of $57.5 billion in 2006 for mental health care in the U.S., with much of this cost arising from the loss of income due to unemployment, expenses for social supports, and a range of indirect costs due to chronic disability.

The impact of behavioral health conditions on one’s health and longevity can be profound. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year, while nearly half a million Americans die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Additional, in 2016 the CDC found that another 16 million individuals live with a serious illness caused by smoking.

How do we compare?

Depression rates varied widely across the western states in 2016. Residents living in Texas reported the lowest rate of depression at 12.4% and those in Oregon reported the highest at 25.5%. Arizona ranked fourth among the 10 western states with a reported depression rate of 16.7%, which was slightly better than the national rate of 17.3%. Results for depression are not available for metropolitan areas.

In 2015, 16.1% of Tucson’s population reported that they excessively drink. Excessive drinking includes those that binge drink, engage in heavy drinking, and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those younger than 21. Binge drinking is defined as women consuming four or more drinks or a man consuming five or more drinks on an occasion, while heavy drinking is eight or more drinks per week for a woman and 15 or more for a man. The percent of those in Tucson that excessively drink was slightly lower than the national rate of 17.0% and significantly lower than some of the peer western metros. Portland and Austin both had excessive drinking rates above 20.0%, to view the MSA data visit the Behavioral Health Comparison Page

What are the key trends?

The percent of the population that reported smoking over the past five years has substantially declined in Tucson, the state of Arizona, and the U.S. In Tucson during 2015, 13.4% of the population reported that they smoked, this was a 5.4 percentage point decrease from 2011. Tucson’s reported rate of smoking during 2015 was also several percentage points below the state and the nation. Data are currently only available through 2015 for the metropolitan areas.

How is it measured?

All data reported originates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a health-related telephone survey that collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventative services. The BRFSS data presented is collected from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the County Health Rankings.