Organizations that develop programs and initiatives for populations with mental and substance use disorders benefit from accessing existing public datasets to assess the needs of a population. Areas for improvement and gaps within community resources can be identified and addressed in conjunction with data from existing individual wellness assessments. Measuring wellness factors such as demographic variables and risk factors can ensure that existing services can best serve their clients and meet their needs.

Public-use data systems house large data sets that can be accessed at no cost, making them extremely valuable for community-based organizations. These data sets can be compared to data gathered by organizations to modify or develop existing programs, propose policy changes, write grant proposals, identify unmet needs, and understand the demographic data of a population. Data sets are available for county, state, and national outcomes. The 500 Cities Project and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) are two public-use data sources provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that offer data relating to chronic diseases, preventative services, health-related risk behaviors, and other wellness-focused data. Collecting wellness program data to supplement public data can be conducted using existing non-proprietary tools as explained in the PRA Well-Being publication Achieving Wellbeing in Recovery: A Review of Existing Measures.

This resource was first published in 2017.

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