New Hampshire is experiencing one of the most significant public health crises in its history. The striking escalation of opiate use and opioid misuse over the last five years is impacting individuals, families, and communities throughout the state. In 2015, there were 439 total drug deaths, of which 397 deaths were caused by opiates/opioids; 2,724 emergency naloxone administrations; and 2,067 opioid-related emergency department visits—the highest-ever recorded in the state. Reducing substance use disorders and related problems is critical to the physical and mental health, safety, and overall quality of life of New Hampshire residents, as well as the state’s economy. Substance use disorders are preventable and treatable, and the State is implementing a comprehensive and lasting response to address this epidemic.
Governor Sununu has stated on several occasions that New Hampshire is currently experiencing a mental health and substance use disorders crisis. The state of the community-based mental health system is increasingly weak. The issue of emergency room ‘boarding’ of children and adults is so severe that the Governor established a Working Group on the Mental Health System and Emergency Room Boarding Crisis. There are several other mental health concerns (NH State Hospital waiting list, Medicaid rates, administrative costs and burdens on the community mental health centers) that resulted in a $25 million Department of Justice settlement between the State and the federal government.
Our mantra is 'working better together' to collaborate with the UNH Community, public and non-profit sector to address behavioral health issues on our campus, in communities, and in our State. The three fundamental framing questions for the Advisory Group are:
1. How can UNH, given our expertise and experience in a wide variety of disciplines, best utilize our resources to address the behavioral health challenges and opportunities with our internal (UNH) and external (public, private, and nonprofit sectors; families and communities) stakeholders?
2. What are the 2-3 three issues/topics that UNH can leverage our expertise and resources to be a better partner with our internal and external stakeholders? How can we 'work better together' as a UNH Community? How can we 'work better together' with families, communities, businesses, nonprofits and the State?
3. How can we enhance behavioral health initiatives within our campus community in collaboration with Healthy UNH and Health and Wellness (formerly known as the UNH Health Center)?