In order to determine the most important areas in which to focus their community plan to most directly improve overall health and wellness in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties, the Health Advisory Council (HAC) began by reviewing information available from Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 for twelve identified health priority areas in the state. Needs assessments and survey data provided by area hospitals, city and county health departments, United Way, and several other agencies and organizations in the Chippewa Valley were also considered. Presentations were also made by local experts and practitioners in the field.
After in-depth discussions of the key issues during a structured prioritization process, the HAC reached consensus on narrowing its focus to four priority areas: Mental Health, Alcohol & Other Drug Use, Injury & Violence, and Chronic Disease Prevention & Management. Workgroups were established and the members are currently in the process of drafting a plan for each area. Preliminary thoughts from the workgroups are as follows:
Affordable access to mental health care should be available in the Chippewa Valley so individuals and families can use it when needed. For that to happen, increased collaboration is needed. The entire community would be targeted in terms of awareness, education, and prevention efforts, with special priority for those living below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. This plan strives to improve mental health services in the Chippewa Valley by:
- Improving collaboration between mental health providers and the medical community;
- Improving access and availability of quality mental health care services;
- Increasing community understanding about the prevalence of mental illness in society;
- Raising awareness and use of crisis lines and other referral services in the community; and
- Increasing use of mental health care services.
High rates of alcohol use are prevalent in the Chippewa Valley and should be reduced. The problem affects people of all ages and from many demographic backgrounds, but special focus should target at-risk groups in the group from 12-34 years of age. The concerns of misuse are related to underage drinkers (primarily ages 10-17), excessive users (i.e., binge drinkers and heavy drinkers in the 18-25 age group), women of childbearing years and pregnant women, and individuals who drive vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. This plan’s projected outcomes will see alcohol misuse decrease among 12-34 year olds by:
- Raising awareness that alcohol can be harmful to a person’s health;
- Increasing the community’s understanding of how the “culture of drinking” affects people’s lives in many ways;
- Starting to drink alcohol at age 21 or after, if at all;
- Learning to drink alcohol in moderation and a low-risk manner; and
- Promoting alcohol-free social and recreational activities.
All victims of intimate partner violence (also called domestic violence) should have access to comprehensive services. As a result of such efforts, the number of incidences should decrease for those victims and their children. Through this plan, adult victims of intimate partner violence and their children will:
- Be better able to plan for their safety;
- Learn ways to keep themselves safe;
- Know more about the options, choices and resources available to them overall;
- Become aware of how crisis and trauma affect their lives;
- Learn skills to help them deal more effectively with their concerns; and
- Develop strategies to cope and manage their emotions.
The working poor, the uninsured, and underinsured people living in the Chippewa Valley should have opportunities for attaining a good quality of life, especially in terms of their health. Obesity is a significant concern in our society because it can lead to other chronic diseases and illnesses. Improvement of individual health behaviors, reduction in modifiable risk factors, and access to clinical care are key factors in addressing chronic disease issues, with first priority given to individuals and families below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. This plan strives for individuals practicing healthy behaviors to prevent and/or delay the onset of obesity by:
- Improving their diet through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables;
- Increasing their participation in physical activity;
- Decreasing consumption of sugar drinks;
- Decreasing consumption of high-energy-dense foods that are high in calories;
- Increasing their knowledge about risk factors associated with obesity and other chronic diseases; and
- Accessing quality health care for regular check-ups and treatment.