“we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns”
For the 6th year in a row, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on several mental health and access measures. This year, Pennsylvania came out on top overall with Nevada coming in 51st. The report also takes a look back on the trends of the last 6 years and shows that many are still not receiving the treatment they need.
Most alarmingly, the data show that the mental health of our youth is getting worse, not better. Major depression in youth has increased 4.35 percent over the last 6 years - meaning over 2 million youth have severe depression. Shockingly, almost 60 percent of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.
“Sadly, our report shows that our children are in crisis,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about - far too many young people are still suffering. It is imperative that we prioritize mental health for children and adolescents so that we can avoid crisis and so they can live healthy and productive lives.”
The data show that children are not the only ones in trouble. Adults are struggling as well:
Over 45 million Americans – almost 20% - are experiencing a mental illness;
Over 10.3 million adults have serious thoughts of suicide in the United States - an increase of nearly 450,000 people from last year’s data set; and
57 percent of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment.
In developing the report, MHA looked at 15 different measures to determine the rankings. MHA hopes to provide a snapshot of mental health status among youth and adults for policy and program planning, analysis, and evaluation; to track changes in prevalence of mental health issues and access to mental health care; to understand how changes in national data reflect the impact of legislation and policies; and to increase the dialogues and improve outcomes for individuals and families with mental health needs.
While much of the state of our mental health care continues to be broken, there are glimmers of hope. A handful of states have made vast improvements. The data show that the rate of substance use disorders (SUD) in adults and in youth ages 12-17 has decreased. Public health and prevention efforts to limit the availability of drugs appear to have been successful in reducing the prevalence of SUD among children and adults in the U.S. That said, alcohol continues to be the most commonly used substance among adolescents and adults, with nearly three-quarters of people over the age of 12 with a SUD in the last year having an alcohol use disorder.
Concluded Gionfriddo: “While there are some improvements, it is clear we are not doing enough. We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes—before Stage 4.”
Youth mental health is worsening. From 2012 to 2017, the prevalence of past-year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) increased from 8.66 percent to 13.01 percent of youth ages 12-17. Now over two million youth have MDE with severe impairment.
Adult prevalence of mental health is relatively stagnant, but suicidal ideation is increasing. Suicidal ideation among adults increased from 3.77 percent in 2012 to 4.19 percent in 2017. That’s over 10.3 million adults in the U.S. with serious thoughts of suicide.
Prevalence of substance use disorder (SUD) decreased in both youth and adults. The prevalence rate of substance use disorder, including illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse, in adults in the past year decreased from 8.46 percent in 2012 to 7.68 percent in 2017. The prevalence rate of substance use disorder in youth ages 12-17 decreased to 4.13 percent in 2017.
More Americans are insured, but their coverage is lacking. The proportion of youth with private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional difficulties nearly doubled, from 4.6 percent in 2012 to 8.1 percent in 2017.
There is still unmet need for mental health treatment among youth and adults. Only 28.2 percent of youth with severe MDE were receiving some consistent treatment, and over 10 million adults still report an unmet need for mental health care.
Youth are not being identified as having an Emotional Disturbance, which can keep them from accessing necessary accommodations. The proportion of students identified with an Emotional Disturbance for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) was only 7.33 percent per 1,000 students in 2017.
Mental Health In America 2020 Links
Ranking the States - Results of Overall, Adult, Youth, Prevalence, and Access to Care Rankings
Adult Data - Adult Prevalence and Access Data
Youth Data - Youth Prevalence and Access Data
Prevalence Data - How many adults and youth have a mental health or substance use problem in America?
Access to Care Data - How many adults and youth have access to insurance and mental health treatment in America?
Glossary and Citations - For Indicators & Positive and Poor Outcomes