Behavioral Health

How are we doing?

In 2018, those living in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) reported 4.5 poor mental health days each month. Tucson ranked ninth among the 12 western metros explored on the MAP. Colorado Springs ranked first with 3.7 poor mental health days reported by its residents, while Albuquerque and Portland ranked last with 4.6 days.

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. Behavioral health conditions 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. However, much of this cost comes in 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 Centers 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. Additionally, 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 2019. Residents living in California reported the lowest rate of depression at 14.6% and those in Oregon reported the highest at 24.6%. Arizona had the second-lowest rate of depression among the 10 western states at 16.8%. Arizona’s reported rate of depression was also lower than the national rate of 19.7%.

In 2018, 20.5% of Tucson’s population reported that they excessively drink. Excessive drinking includes those that binge drink, 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 higher than the national rate of 19.0% and lower than some of the peer western metros. Austin, Denver, Portland, and San Diego all had excessive drinking rates above 21.0%, to view the MSA data visit the Behavioral Health Comparison Page

What are the key trends?

The percent of the population that reported smoking between 2011 and 2015 substantially declined in Tucson, the state of Arizona, and the U.S. However, in Tucson the percentage of those who reported that they smoked increased significantly over the past few years. In 2018, 17.0% of Tucson’s population reported that they smoked, this was a 3.6 percentage point increase from a low of 13.4% in 2015. Tucson’s reported rate of smoking during 2018 was consistent with the nation but higher than the state rate of 14.5%.

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the County Health Rankings.