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  • Marcus J. Hopkins

Highlighting Public Health in Appalachia

Adult Depression in Appalachia: 1 out of every 4 Appalachian adults lives with depression. West Virginia leads the nation with nearly 1 out of every 3 adults afflicted.

By: Marus J. Hopkins

July 4th, 2023

As part of the Appalachian Learning Initiative's continuing research, reporting, and advocacy work in #PublicHealth, APPLI (pronounced like "apply") will begin debuting its series of infographics focusing on county-level public health statistics in #Appalachia.

This means that we will be updating our data over the course of the next three months to reflect the most recent statistics available and adding new data to our research, including our most recent addition measuring Adult #Depression across Appalachia.

Adult Depression afflicts nearly 1 out of every 5 adults (18.4%) in the United States, with West Virginia (27.5%), Kentucky (25%), and Tennessee (24.4%) reporting the highest percentages of adults living with depression in the country.

Why Public Health?

Barriers to Healthcare Access in Appalachia: Geographic - Rural locations, Mountainous terrain, Physician shortages, lack of specialists, Rural hospital closures, Technology gaps; Transportation - Long-distance travel, Lack of vehicle, Transportation costs, No public transportation, Poor road quality, Weather-related issues; Communication - Reading deficiencies, Poor health literacy, Lack of trust in providers, Cultural barriers, Perceived or actual stigma, Language barriers; Age & Disability - Mobility issues, Lack of transportation, Social isolation, Lack of assistance, Inability to communication, Tecnological barriers; Income - Cost of care, Ability to afford care, Poor insurance coverage, No insurance coverage, Not enrolled in Medicaid, No Medicaid expansion

We know that the Social Determinants of Health (#SDOH)—Economic Stability, Neighborhood & Physical Environment, Education, Food, Community & Social Context, and Healthcare Systems—can positively or negatively impact health outcomes, such as the incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases and the rates of overdose and disease mortality.

APPLI believes and works to illustrate that the SDOH do not only impact health outcomes, but that they are inextricably linked to one another:

When people have lower levels of educational attainment, they are more likely to have worse healthcare outcomes. Conversely, when people have higher rates of depression, obesity, and are more likely to suffer from both infectious diseases and #DiseasesOfDespair (e.g., alcohol dependency, substance misuse, and suicidal thoughts/behavior), they are less likely to have the ability to focus on educational attainment, both as children and as adults.

What's Ahead

Starting this month, APPLI will begin developing and distributing infographics for the Appalachian Region, individual states, and local jurisdictions and distributing them across our website and social media channels. This will include updating our Public Health, state-level research pages, and Infographics Database to include more resources to download.

In addition, we will continue to work on expanding our Appalachian Adult Education Directory to include new resources as we receive more responses to our Appalachian Adult Education Providers Survey.

Take our Appalachian Adult Education Provider Survey.

We are passionate about the work we do at #APPLIOrg, and hope that you will continue to share our resources with your friends, family, and networks.


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