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Letter: Open the Lines of Communication

By simply glancing at the morning newspaper or flipping on the TV, one can gain a sense of how the current climate of our economy is impacting the personal finances of Long Islanders.

But how is the recession and the present dynamic of society affecting our mental health? And once the recession fades, will the scars left upon us both as a society and as individuals dissipate as well?

Through its recent study, “Vital Signs 2009: Measuring Long Island’s Social Health,” Adelphi University examines and illuminates these important inquiries, holistically analyzing our community’s welfare.  

The report breaks down 23 social indicator categories and analyzes each community based on age, race, gender and ethnicity. According to the study, the greatest blame for the most dramatic results was the recession.

During this dismal economic climate, the immense pressure of providing food, shelter and medical care for a family often takes a heavy toll on one’s mental and physical health. As the increase in suicide rates and child abuse reports suggest, social health on Long Island is indeed a growing problem.

While a portion of the study’s conclusions suggest some improvements on Long Island, such as a decrease in heart disease mortality rates and a decrease in the rate of breast cancer among women in the region, these few positive findings are shamefully overshadowed by the adverse social health trends. Such trends include significant increases in personal bankruptcy filings, an increase in youths arrested for property crimes and a decrease in the amount of women utilizing early prenatal care.

 A problem which is not identified cannot be addressed, nor subsequently remedied. Thus, I commend Adelphi University for its efforts in highlighting this pertinent issue. As a result of reviewing these findings, it is crucial that state and local officials along with health experts and community leaders work together to create long-term solutions.

Therefore, I welcome more open dialogue and research regarding Long Island’s social health and look forward to joining my colleagues in developing and championing real solutions.

 Senator Kemp Hannon