City looks to improve public health

NASHUA – One in four high school students in the Nashua area have used marijuana within the last 30 days, those attending the Greater Nashua Public Health Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday learned.

Heavy alcohol consumption is also a problem among local young people, as New Hampshire ranks sixth out of 50 states for binge drinking for those between the ages of 18 and 25, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

These are but two of the problems officials discussed Wednesday.

“It’s really an opportunity for community leaders that represent diverse agencies to work and build a healthier Nashua region,” said Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services Director Bobbie Bagley regarding the meeting.

Substance Use Prevention Coordinator of the Greater Nashua Public Health Communications Lisa Vasquez said the goal is to lower the rate of marijuana use among high school students to 6 percent by 2020.

“One of the things we have been doing is going out and educating people about substance use disorder and what is it,” she said.

Vasquez and officials with the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services have set other goals, such as increasing awareness about suicide and how to prevent it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in New Hampshire have increased by 48.3 percent in New Hampshire in the last 17 years.

Kimberly Adie is the director of Healthy Living for the YMCA of Greater Nashua.

She said efforts to reduce childhood obesity are vital.

“We want to make sure this is a collaborative effort,” Adie said.

Also participating in the discussion was Dr. Stephanie Wolf-Rosenblum, a pulmonologist. She said the best way to make an impact is to not only share statistics, but stories.

“You just need to speak from the heart,” Wolf-Rosenblum said to the audience.

Wolf-Rosenblum highlighted the importance of making sure more community members take action when addressing public health. Participating in a support group or sharing a personal story at a public forum are some examples.

“We are so much stronger when everybody finds a way to contribute to the health of the community in ways, big or small,” Wolf-Rosenblum added.