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Harnessing the Power of Data: SAS & Big Data Transforming Mental Health Care

Data is more than just numbers and statistics; it’s a powerful storytelling tool.

A project from SAS highlights how it can also transform the mental health system, ensuring that those in need receive high-quality care.

Dawnté Early, Chief of Research and Evaluation for the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission at SAS, discovered this transformative potential in her pioneering work.

Keep reading to learn more about it and why it’s important for our communities.

Mental Health: A Growing Concern

According to research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than two in five Australians aged between 16 and 85 have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime. One in five have also experienced a mental illness for over twelve months, and anxiety is the most commonly experienced mental disorder.

Nearly two in five people who experienced a mental health disorder for more than twelve months  fell within the 16 and 24 age group.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that three in four children aged between 4 and 11 experienced a mild mental disorder, and one in five experienced a moderate condition.

As more people become aware of mental health and its  effects on our schools, workplaces, and communities, it’s clear that more needs to be dedicated to supporting everyone in managing their mental health in the right ways.

That’s where SAS comes in.

Mental Health & Big Data: About the Project

One of the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission’s groundbreaking projectsinvolved linking massive amounts of mental health data with decades of criminal justice data from the California Department of Justice.

This endeavour revealed a compelling narrative: access to mental health care substantially impacts criminal justice involvement.

Their findings showed that participation in the state’s Full Service Partnership mental health program led to a 47% overall decline in criminal justice involvement, with a staggering 69% decrease in arrests for participants with prior high criminal justice involvement.

“This is the power of data to tell a story,” Dawnté Early emphasises. “Simply put, mental health services reduce criminal justice involvement.”

The insights provided by these data analyses were not confined to academic circles. The commission shared its findings with county behavioural health directors, providing concrete analytical proof of the impact of mental health services.

The Role of Data: Going Beyond Research

Data should provide value for everyone involved in the mental health system, not just data scientists or researchers.

Early and her team recognised this, creating a transparency suite of data dashboards – accessible visualisations of the commission’s findings. These dashboards were designed to empower individuals at all levels involved in mental health care, from consumers and family members to the general public.

By putting information into the hands of those striving to make a difference, the commission demonstrated the profound impact of sharing data and sparking meaningful dialogue.

By sharing these stories with state agencies and communities, the commission sought to answer vital questions: What is happening in this community, and how can we enhance the utilisation of available resources to reduce risk and provide effective care and services?

“What I love about data is its power to lift the voices of communities that are underserved or unserved,” Early emphasises. “Mental health touches all of us. It touches our families and our friends. We’re constantly seeing individuals who have mental health needs that are not being met. But we can use data to help.”

Find Out More

SAS and the use of big data offer immense potential to revolutionise mental health care.

Through meticulous data analysis and strategic partnerships, we can illuminate the stories that pave the way for a more compassionate and effective mental health system, ultimately improving the lives of those in need.

If you want to learn more about this innovative project, head here.

If this has sparked your curiosity about where a career with SAS could take you, check out their dedicated employer profile and sign up for alerts on upcoming opportunities.

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