Mecklenburg County Public Health

Mecklenburg County Public Health Data Walk - Illuminating Community Voice to Build Trust

On June 14, 2023, Next Stage had the honor of developing and facilitating The Data Walk for Meck Design Day in partnership with Mecklenburg County Public Health. This was an opportunity to discuss how community voice deepens work within neighborhoods, highlight assets that already exist within Mecklenburg County micro-geographies, and share the essential nature of building and cultivating trust. 

Periodically, local health data is collected and analyzed to examine overall health and quality of life outcomes specific to Mecklenburg County. Because of the pandemic, it’s been important to assess strengths, challenges, and assets as well as health disparities caused by Covid 19. Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) presented a report entitled Connecting Communities: 2022 Community Health Assessment. The report was drafted and informed by healthcare systems and professionals, community-based organizations, residents, and public health for planning and improvement purposes to support a changing and diverse community.  

Based on the Community Health Assessment (CHA), the purpose and design of the data walk  focused on four key components which are noted below with additional factors brought forth and expanded upon in the report.

Access to Care/Healthy Pregnancy

Access to Care and Healthy Pregnancy were combined to reveal barriers to care. This was evident in the growing concern around Black Maternal Health as well as increased mortality rates for black infants. The report states,

“Black infants are more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants. Similar to the national rates, the county’s overall infant mortality rate has decreased over the past decade. However, the Black infant mortality rate is almost three times the White infant mortality.”

For the data walk, participants discussed the importance of prenatal and postnatal care, culturally relevant and sensitivity training, and resources.

Chronic Disease

Chronic Disease was noted as expansive and covers heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other ailments which limits activity, health function, and quality of life. The report shares,

“Chronic diseases account for seven of the ten leading causes of death. Heart disease and cancer are the first and second leading causes of death.”

For the data walk, diabetes was emphasized in terms of social determinants of health, systemic barriers to care, education and awareness, and the importance of healthy food and physical activity.

Mental Health

Given the strenuous nature of Covid-19 and its impact on youth, students in school, and adults. It was imperative to discuss mental and behavioral health and the long-term effects that this population in our community continue to face. Per the report,

“Behavioral health is a growing priority for youth and adults. One in five Mecklenburg adults report being diagnosed with depression; one in five Charlotte-Mecklenburg high school students reports seriously considering suicide in the past year.”

To unpack this data specific to youth and high school students,, a representative from Communities In Schools Charlotte shared case studies of what students experienced related to mental health episodes and challenges, affective grades performance and outlook and outlining essential resources to support them effectively.

Violence Prevention

Per the report,

“Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons ages 15-24 in 2021. Between 2015 and 2020, 50% of homicides in Charlotte occurred in five zip codes (28205, 28206, 28208, 28215, and 28216.)”

For the data walk, just reading the June police blotter astonished the participants and caused stress and anxiety. The reaction was the same for MCPH staff who read the violent incidents. In posing the question,

“How might community violence affect a person’s health?”

responses included lack of safety, a normalization of crime and violent acts, increased anxiety, addiction, and trauma, desensitization, hopelessness, fear, etc.

Due to the magnitude of emotions and feelings shared in this space, the team led a breathing exercise to help participants feel supported and cared for.

Mecklenburg County Public Health led, conducted, facilitated, and gathered information for the respective sessions during the data walk with assistance from partners like Care Ring and Communities In Schools of Charlotte Mecklenburg, Inc. Using the assessment data to present the findings through the lens of lived experience, expert analysis, and thoughtful expressions encouraged audience participation during each session in an informative and inspirational way.