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Cook County Public Health Presents Data from 2022 Minnesota Student Survey–Forming Substance Use Prevention Coalition

Cook County Public Health presented a sig­nificant amount of data that resulted from the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey, a statewide effort. The Survey was conducted from Janu­ary to June last year with fifth, eighth, ninth and eleventh grade students from across the state. Participation in the survey was completely vol­untary and anonymous.

Begun in 1989 and conducted every three years since, the Survey had 70% of school districts participating with 135,000 students, down from 81% of districts and 170,000 stu­dents in 2019.

The internet accessed survey included ques­tions about school climate, out-of-school ac­tivities, healthy eating, emotional health, sub­stance use, and connections with school and family. The survey is extensive and focuses on the well being of students from bullying to gen­der identity. It also surveyed the accessibility of technology.

The Cook County presentation is focused on local student mental health and substance use and is held at the Cook County Higher Educa­tion building in Grand Marais. It is recorded for future use. Check the Public Health portion of the county website for availability.

According to the Survey, one in five students reported being bullied or harassed on a weekly basis. Sixty percent reported excellent or very good health, down from sixty-nine percent in the 2016 survey.

Almost a third of survey respondents report long term (six months or more) mental health problems and 28% of eleventh graders said they had seriously considered suicide in at least one point in their life.

In addition to presenting the survey, Cook County Public Health is forming a Substance Use Prevention Coalition to address youth sub­stance use and abuse, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Specifically the Coalition will:

  • Identify what substance use concerns exist
  • Determine how risk and protective factors affect use
  • Identify evidence-based programs to ad­dress substance abuse
  • Examine community readiness for poten­tial prevention, treatment and recovery pro­grams
  • Develop goals and strategies for use pre­vention and treatment and measure the ef­fectiveness of efforts toward those goals.

Cook County Public Health is looking for members of the community to join the coali­tion. If you are willing to serve, contact Andrea Orest by phone at 218-220-5536 or email at andrea.orest@co.cook.mn.us.  Orest, the Public Health Educator, is especially interested in add­ing members to the coalition who are current or past users of abused substances. “Your voice is especially valuable, as lived experience pro­vides a necessary perspective,” she said.

The Minnesota Departments of Corrections, Education, Health, Human Services and Pub­lic Safety collaborate with schools to admin­ister the Student Survey, which is the primary source of comprehensive data on youth at the state, county and local levels. It is the only con­sistent source of statewide data on the health and well-being of youth from smaller popula­tion groups, such as racial or ethnic groups. All school districts are invited to participate.

The full reports on the survey can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health website https://www.health.state.mn.us.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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