By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Infant mortality went up 18% in Nevada in the years immediately preceding the pandemic, one of the topline findings of a new report from UnitedHealthcare.
The 2021 America’s Health Rankings report on the Health of Women and Children crunched the numbers on 118 measures of overall health.
Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare, said the data is intended to give policymakers a sense of how the community is faring.
“Shockingly, about one in five women, a little more than 18% of women in the United States, said that out of the last 30 days they did not feel mentally well for 14 of those,” Johar reported. “So for more than half the month, one in five women did not feel well.”
The report also found compared with the U.S. as a whole, Nevada has a low percentage of female college graduates, a high prevalence of illicit drug use among women, and low rates of enrollment in early childhood education.
Johar pointed out the research also revealed a big decrease in fourth-grade reading proficiency.
“And again, remember this is pre-pandemic,” Johar noted. “So with the schools being closed and virtual learning, we’re really worried about what that’s going to show in the future. “
The research showed Nevada teens commit suicide more often than the national average.
Dr. Alison Netski, a psychiatrist at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV and a primary organizer with Hope Means Nevada, said rates are higher in the rural West because of the accessibility of guns and the shortage of mental-health professionals.
She encouraged everyone to check out the website Hope Means Nevada, which includes the number for the suicide prevention lifeline.
“There’s information for teens, so they can help themselves and help their friends,” Netski outlined. “There’s also information for parents, so they can understand more about the signs of mental illness. “
The state did make progress on reducing child poverty, cutting smoking and lowering teen births.