Healthy Outlook: Behavioral health summit coming up, senior health rankings and more news and notes

Healthy Outlook

The Douglas County Behavioral Health Prevention Summit returns on June 25, and it’s grown a bit since its debut last year.

The summit features two keynote speakers on topics of the future of cannabis policy and fentanyl, new drugs and prevention, according to its agenda. Then three breakout sessions will offer four topics apiece, including opioids, trauma, suicide intervention, human trafficking, vaping and more. The last afternoon session will focus on MyStrength, an app that offers mental and general health support and that will soon be available to Douglas County residents for free.

This year’s summit, hosted by DCCCA and scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 200 McDonald Drive, is free to those who live or work in Douglas County. It’s $25 for everyone else. Registration and a full agenda are available online via

Health effects of tornado, excessive rain

The near-daily rain and the many other bizarre and terrible weather events this area has been experiencing can affect your health, too.

• The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has published some information for victims of the May 28 tornado and for those who have been volunteering to help clean up debris. You’re due for a tetanus booster if it’s been more than 10 years since your last one, or if you suffer a puncture wound of any kind during cleanup, according to the department.

It can take months to recover from tetanus, which can cause seizures, lockjaw and difficulty breathing, according to LDCHD. The department’s clinic does have boosters available; call 785-843-0721 or set up an appointment via the smartphone app QLess.

• The excessive rain, according to the Kansas News Service, made May 2019 the wettest month ever recorded in Kansas, with 10.26 inches. That could increase chances for mold in homes, particularly if any moisture is getting into basements, according to LDCHD’s informatics director, Sonia Jordan, via an email from the department’s spokesman, George Diepenbrock.

“We would encourage people to take precautions in monitoring air quality, especially if they are noticing water in their basement, etc.,” Diepenbrock wrote. Also, it’s important to clean it safely — make sure you can access a ventilated area, and avoid too much bleach exposure.

Diepenbrock said the department encourages people to refer to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines on mold. Resources abound at

What to know about vaping

Nearly 1 in 3 Kansas high school students have tried an e-cigarette, according to the health department, and nationally, 30.7% of teen e-cigarette users started smoking within six months.

Several area agencies will host a community forum, “Vaping among youth in Douglas County: What you need to know,” from 5:30-7 p.m. Monday, June 17 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.

Folks will be on hand from the health department, Lawrence Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, the University of Kansas Cancer Center and LiveWell Douglas County. The forum will include personal experiences from youth and a discussion about tackling the issue, according to the health department.

Kansas rises a bit in senior health rankings

Kansas moved up a spot to 28th-ranked overall in the United Health Foundation’s annual Health Rankings Senior report, according to a news release and state summary from the foundation.

Some of the strengths listed in the report include low prevalence of food insecurity (ranked 6th overall), low percentage of seniors living in poverty (10th) and a high percentage of volunteerism (15th). On the other hand, the state also has a low SNAP enrollment (ranked 46th overall) and low flu vaccination coverage (38th), the report says.

In policy overall, which “represents structural principles that guide or determine health decisions of the population, such as immunizations, health insurance coverage, and public health funding,” according to the report, Kansas comes in 47th.

Hawaii, Utah, Connecticut, Minnesota and Colorado, respectively, comprise the top 5 states in the rankings.

Home states of some Big 12 foes fell into the bottom 5. States ranked 46-49 are West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky, and Mississippi comes in last.

A couple of other Kansas notes from the report:

• In the past three years, excessive drinking increased from 4.9% to 6.2% of adults ages 65 and up — an increase of 27%.

• In the past five years, depression increased from 11% to 16.7% in the same group — a 52% increase.

The full report is available online at

About Healthy Outlook

Healthy Outlook is a column written by Journal-World reporter and Health section editor Mackenzie Clark, in hopes of helping readers make their lives a little bit happier, healthier and more active.

Have questions about the world of health and wellness in Lawrence, or a health story idea? Contact Mackenzie:

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